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What To Do If You're Caught In An Avalanche, And How To Avoid The Danger


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.

How To Avoid Getting Caught

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," said 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.

What To Do If You Get Caught

D'Amico 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."

He 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 Seattle cross-country skiers died in an avalanche in northeast Oregon.

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.