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Avalanche Risk
preparing for avalanche emergency Every year, thousands of avalanches occur.Avalanches can be caused by wind, rain, snowfall, earthquakes, and the temperature rising.They can also be caused by skiers, snowmobiles, mountain climbers, and the vibrations of machinery used in construction.
  • An avalanche is caused when a layer of snow detaches and collapses down a mountain.
  • For an avalanche to occur, four elements need to be present: a sharp slope, a snowpack, a weakness in the snowpack, and a triggering factor (such as those mentioned above).
  • The planning of roads and train tracks should take into considering minimizing the risk of avalanches.
  • Controlled avalanches can be caused when there is a risk because of a dangerous snowpack.
  • Avalanches can attain speeds of up to 90km/h (~56mph).
  • After an hour, on average only one survivor is found among three victims of an avalanche.The most common causes of death in this case are suffocation, injury, or hypothermia.

Safety Tips for an Avalanche

  • If you have plans to travel in the backcountry, seriously consider taking a course in avalanche safety.
  • Make sure that you’re part of a group that is guided by an experienced person.Never stray too far from your group.
  • When travelling by car, make sure to locate the signs warning of avalanche zones and be sure not to stop in those areas.
  • Drive carefully in avalanche zones.Avalanches can reach the roads unexpectedly.
  • Carry a winter emergency survival kit with you while out in risky area.
  • Respect road closures.When there’s a high risk of avalanches, preventative controlled avalanches can be set off at any time and this is usually done using explosives.
  • If an avalanche is blocking your route of travel, stay in your car with your seatbelt fashioned.Wait for help.It’ll be easier to locate a car than a person in the snow.If possible, try to park yourself in a safe area.
  • Avoid driving in avalanches; even minor ones that you may not deem dangerous.
  • If you have a farm, it’s recommended that you remove your cattle from risky areas.Once an avalanche occurs, it’s rare that you’ll have time to react and manage the situation and animals.If your pastures, pens, or exits are at the base of a steep, snowy slope, be aware of fresh snow accumulating on top of already fallen, packed snow and what may occur as the temperature warms up.

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