Most people find it difficult to determine what their reaction should be, when something goes terribly wrong. It is natural to be in this situation. You can react in different ways, and this varies from individual to individual. For some people, fear grips them so badly, they just forget to run or move out of the way. In some people, fear makes them think faster and they act instantly. In fact, they act even before their brain can acknowledge that there is a problem.
REACTION 1: TRY TO ESCAPE THE AVALANCHE
The first reaction you must have when you see an avalanche approaching is to escape it. For this purpose, you need to program your survival instincts to do the following.
The First Thing to Do
You have to jump up the slope! There’s no need to waste another minute thinking, just jump! Sadly, the cause of most avalanches, are the victims themselves.
Sometimes, an avalanche starts right underneath the victim’s feet. If you are in such a situation, the first thing to do is to jump up the slope. Go beyond the fracture line and make sure that you act quickly because avalanches happen instantly, and it becomes almost impossible to go down fast enough to escape.
The Next Thing to Do
Regardless of whether the avalanche starts beneath your feet or above you, you have to find a way to get out of the path of the snow. You must not hesitate even for a second, be quick, and move to the side of the slope. This way, if the starting of the avalanche was above you, you will be able to get out of its path, and escape before it reaches you.
Keep in mind that the snow will move faster in the center of the flow, and remember that the center is where there will be the most quantity of snow. You have to avoid trapping ourselves in the excessive snow that is flowing downhill.
The Third Thing to Do
You have to let go of your heavy equipment. In order to be able to escape the avalanche, you have to be light enough to run quickly. With the added weight of the equipment, escaping will be difficult, maybe even impossible. Let go of your backpack, and ski poles. Drop the equipment quickly and run for it. This will increase your chances of staying towards the surface of the snow even if you don’t escape the flow completely. If you are heavy, you will sink right to the bottom of the snow, and this will reduce chances of survival.
However, DO NOT let go of the survival equipment like the transceiver, snow shovel, and probe. If the snow buries you, these things will help you make a way out of it. Moreover, people who come searching for you will be able to find you if some of your equipment are visible on the surface of the ice. You can let go of the extra gloves and other items that are not crucial for your survival.
The Fourth Thing to Do
Hold on tightly to something.
Try to grab a boulder or a sturdy tree if you know it’s too late to run and you cannot escape the avalanche. If the avalanche is not large, or if you manage to get to the side of the avalanche, then you can hold on until it passes. Assuming the force of the flow rips you off the object that you are holding onto, delaying your departure downhill will give you a better chance at surviving, and the snow may not bury you in too deep.
In case you are underestimating the force of an avalanche, let’s make it clear that an avalanche has enough power to carry rocks and trees that are in its path. Imagine what it can do to you.
Don’t take it for granted.
The Fifth Thing to Do
Try to find your way to the surface of the snow, and for that, you have to swim to the surface, otherwise, you will just sink in. The human body is denser than ice, which means you will go under while the snow will pile above you. It will be a struggle to keep your head up and above the snow. As the snow carries you downhill, it will also make you sink at the same time.
This will be a scary experience and is very risky. You must try everything possible to stay afloat, so kick as hard as you can and thrash your arms to swim through the flow.
It is a good idea to swim on your back; this will help keep your face up, towards the surface, allowing you to breathe well. If the snow buries you, you will have better chances of getting enough oxygen to be able to survive until the rescue team gets to you. While you swim, make sure you do that uphill. Swimming upward will quickly get you closer to the surface of the ice.