Thursday, March 13, 2008

Survive an Avalanche

Your odds of outrunning the snow? Not so good. An avalanche can accelerate to 80 mph in seconds. But if you follow these tips, you might just limp away from it or get carried on a stretcher to the ER.

Ski one at a time. Ski between islands of safety. Make sure somebody is watching your entire descent. Shout to warn others. Ditch your poles. Keep your pack on. Insert AvaLung mouthpiece. Pull the ABS ripcord.

1. Grab a tree. The more snow that slides past you, the less likely you'll be buried alive. Hang on for dear life until the force knocks you off.

2. Do Not Swim. Research has shown that swimming does not increase odds of survival and it's better to protect yourself and conserve energy.

3. Create space. Once the snow stops, it'll set like concrete. As it slows, exhale to clear the snow that is packed in your mouth.

4. Raise a hand. Before the flow ceases, get a limb to the surface to help rescuers find you. Between 15 minutes and 45 minutes under the snow, your odds of survival fall from 90 percent to 30.

5. Breathe slowly. To delay an impermeable ice mask forming around your face, stay calm and don't bother yelling until rescuers are on top of you. Your fate is now in their hands. Pray that your beacon is working. Pray that their beacon is working. Pray that they have practiced using their beacon. Pray that they have a shovel that won't break. Pray that they have practiced the latest shoveling techniques. Pray that there is no major trauma.

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