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Course Outline

If you get caught in an avalanche, taking these steps may help you survive.

  • Try to stay on your snowmobile and ride to the side of the avalanche.
  • If you are wearing a pack, keep it on. It will help with flotation.
  • If you fall off your snowmobile:
    • Push yourself away from the machine so that it will not injure you.
    • Fight hard by “swimming” to stay on top of the snow.
    • Try to roll on your back so that you will be face up when you stop.
    • As the avalanche slows, thrust your arm straight up. Then expand your chest and use your arm to create airspace.
    • Stay calm, and try not to panic. This will help your oxygen last longer.

If You Need to Help an Avalanche Victim

  • If you see someone get caught in an avalanche, do not leave to go for help. You have only about 15 minutes to rescue a buried person before he or she suffocates and dies.
    • Pay attention to the last place where you saw the victim.
    • Ask others about the number of people involved, where they were last seen, and if they were wearing a transceiver or beacon.
    • Make sure the area is safe before you go to search it.
    • Thoroughly search the area below where the victim(s) was last seen.
    • If you see gloves, boots, or other clues to the victim’s location, do not move them. Most buried snowmobilers are found within 200 feet (60.96 meters) of their machines.
    • If the victim(s) was wearing a transceiver or beacon, set your transceiver to “receive” and check for a signal.
    • If the previous techniques are not successful, use a probe to search the area systematically.
  • When you locate an avalanche victim, dig quickly but carefully.
    • Clear snow from the person’s mouth and chest first.
    • Then check for breathing problems, hypothermia, and injuries.
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