I was watching a programme I'd taped from BBC2 last Thursday called Avalanche: Making a Deadly Snowstorm, about an English research project that took place earlier this year in Canada, choosing a valley likely to have an avalanche, researching the snow conditions, and setting instruments to record, then placing explosives and blowing everything up. Fascinating!
I'll never be exposed to an avalanche where I live though some of our members living in Scotland might not be able to say the same thing; but I do go on holibob after all (Norway in June! so who knows?) just as well to know about this stuff.
A few things that really stood out:
- historical records are becoming much less useful, with climate change avalanches are happening in areas where they're never previously as taking place.
- 30 people have been killed in the UK since the year 2000! That surprised me, couldn't find a figure supporting that but I did find this: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland- ... s-38141979
- they aren't rivers - there's surges in the snow pack, which is why they're comparatively destructive for their size.
- two items of kit currently available that really help: a locator, worm underneath your top layer of clothing, and what they term an "air bag", same as the ones in cars, but a bit bigger.
- and if you're caught in an avalanche, a couple of things recommended are to use your arms with a back crawl motion (which they demonstrate) to move yourself up within the snow pack; and when you feel your motion stopping, push your hand up as far as you can, hopefully it will act as a signal.
- plus (I'd have thought, anyway) take a deep breath as you feel yourself stopping. And keep as calm as you can. They tested a new piece of kit on the scientist presenting the programme, a breather of some sort, and although she knew she was surrounded with people and had all sorts of help within six inches, she panicked, her SATS level plummeted, and they had to dig her out after 5 minutes, whereas the kit would have kept her alive for an hour or so if she hadn't - a point she made herself, to be fair.
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