Avoid avalanche threats this winter

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah—On Dec. 12, the 75th Air Base Wing Safety Office hosted an Avalanche Awareness Clinic at the base theater. Jake Ward from the Utah Avalanche Center provided information to those who attended, which will help to identify avalanche hazards and avoid being caught up in them.

For those unable to attend, Ward focused on five important guidelines for staying safe in the back country. Steps 1-3 should be accomplished before heading out.

1. Get the gear

  • Always carry a transceiver, probe and shovel in the back country to help find a buried partner and be found.

  • Always carry your gear on your body with your transceiver turned on.

  • Consider carrying an inflatable pack to increase your chances of staying on top of the avalanche.

  • Practice with your gear regularly. Seconds count and your gear only works when you can use it confidently and efficiently in bad conditions.

2. Get the training

  • Take an avalanche class and learn the basics.

  • Learn how to provide first aid to an injured member of your party.

  • Keep your skills current.

3. Get the forecast

  • Go to Avalanche.org to find your local avalanche center and get the forecast before you go. Or go to utahavalanchecenter.org. This will help you to plan a safe trip.

4. Get the picture

  • Be aware of hazardous or changing conditions

  • Re-assess the conditions as you go.

  • Identify safer and more hazardous terrain and minimize your exposure

5. Get out of harm’s way

  • Only one person on a suspect slope at a time

  • Do not stop in an area exposed to avalanche hazardous terrain.

  • Stay in contact with each other.

  • Know what terrain traps are and avoid them.

To learn more about avalanches and training, visit https://utahavalanchecenter.org/

Be smart when playing during the winter months. Learn as much as you can before you go into the back country and always practice risk management skills during all activities.