Reaction 2: Surviving If You Get Buried In the Snow
Assuming that your attempts in ‘Reaction One’ fail, and you somehow end up underneath the snow, what can you do to survive? Here’s a list of things you need to do in this case:
1: MAKE A POCKET OF SPACE AROUND YOUR FACE
Once the avalanche stops, the snow will settle and form a heavy concrete surface. If you realize that you are too deep under the snow, maybe more than a foot, getting out of it by yourself will be next to impossible. The only hope that you have then, is to avoid asphyxiation (oxygen deprivation) for as long as you can or until rescuers come to dig you out.
Check your equipment and see if you can use something like an avalanche shovel to dig a pocket near your face. Alternatively, you can use your free hand to make a small pocket near your nose and mouth to allow you to breathe. This can give you enough air to keep you alive for thirty minutes.
Before the snow around you settles completely, you have time to take deep breathes so that your chest expands. This will make some space around you, creating some breathing room before the snow hardens around you. If you don’t make that space, your chest won’t be able to expand to allow you to breathe while you remain buried in the snow.
2: CONSERVE YOUR ENERGY AND AIR
Once the snow settles around you, you have to try to move but do this without losing the air pocket. If you are lucky enough to be close to the surface, you can easily dig your way upwards and out of the avalanche. However, if you are in too deep, you may not succeed in going anywhere, and the best thing will be, not to waste your precious breath while struggling in the slow. Stay calm and wait for help to come. Surely, people will be looking for you.
If you hear people nearby, it will be a good idea to call out to them, but without compromising your air pocket. If they don’t hear you, don’t keep it up much longer. Shouting will limit your air supply, so be cautious, and shout when you are sure that they can hear you.
3: WAIT FOR RESCUERS – THEY WILL COME!
Rest assured that immediately after the avalanche subsides, there will be a team of people looking for survivors, and if you held onto the beacon and probe, your fellow skiers must have done the same. Someone will find you and dig you out. Just be calm and wait for them.
Nevertheless, there are some helpful things you can do while you wait for rescuers to find you.