What To Do If You're Caught In An Avalanche

Feb 13, 2014
Originally published on February 13, 2014 4:44 pm

As snow continues to pound the region's ski resorts, plenty of skiers  are expected to hit the slopes. But with the increased snowpack comes the risk of avalanches.

If you are skiing  this holiday weekend, the best way to avoid an avalanche is stay within the boundary of the ski resort.

"Once you step outside those gates, you are not guaranteed anything," says Dennis D'Amico, a forecaster with the Northwest Avalanche Center in Seattle.

D'Amico says if you do head out in the backcountry, keep an eye out for avalanche debris. That could mean conditions are prime for more activity.

He says watch for cracks along the surface of the snow. And leave yourself a way out -- don't ski or hike into a narrow ravine.

And he says if you do get caught up a roar of snow and ice, "Try to swim and stay on top of the avalanche and kind of go diagonally towards the sides."

D'Amico says the sides are better since you're more likely to be near the surface when the avalanche stops. He adds that being near the surface is the key to survival.

Already this week, two cross-country skiers from Washington state died in an avalanche in northeast Oregon.

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