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Recommended action in case of exceptional avalanche situations

Recommended action before avalanches

You can prepare yourself for situations in which heightened avalanche danger prevails by taking special precautions. Taking such action can reduce the risk of injuries to people and damages to buildings or other physical assets.

Before the winter arrives

Ask the district authority or cantonal natural hazards agency whether the building in which you live is exposed to avalanche danger. If you live in a red or blue danger zone, take the precautions described below before the onset of winter.

  • Familiarise yourself with the sources of information concerning current avalanche dangers and with officially prescribed measures: obtain the Internet address and telephone number of the local authority and/or avalanche service, subscribe to text messaging services.
  • Make certain that you can be contacted by telephone: give your telephone number to the local authority / avalanche service.
  • Inspect the means of securing windows and doors, shutters etc.
  • Make ready rooms on the ground floor / in the basement where you would be able to live for several days.
  • Make sure that you are able to contact, and receive information from, the authorities from these rooms (telephone, battery-operated radio).
  • Keep snow clearing tools, torches and replacement batteries ready to hand.
  • Replenish emergency provisions (guidance of the Federal Office for National Economic Supply).
In case of an acute avalanche situation
  • Follow instructions issued by the authorities, respect cordons.
  • Continuously monitor information concerning the current situation and officially prescribed measures (Internet / radio / text messaging / telephone).
  • Close window shutters on the side of the building facing the slope and the adjacent sides.
  • Do not leave the building, stay in the basement / on the ground floor.
  • Keep a house snow shovel, pickaxe, torch and replacement batteries ready to hand.
  • Extinguish open fires and flames.
  • Switch off electrical appliances that you do not need.
  • Maintain contact with the district authority / avalanche service / police.
  • Be ready to evacuate.

Any evacuation made necessary by the avalanche danger will be directed and conducted by the local authorities. You can prepare for an evacuation by taking the following action:

  • Keep warm clothing and sturdy winter footwear ready to hand.
  • Pack a small rucksack or travel bag with personal necessities.
  • Gather important documents.
  • Arrange the possibility of accommodation for a few days with relatives / friends who live outside the endangered area.

Recommended action during an avalanche

Behaving appropriately during an avalanche can save lives.

On transportation routes
  • Pay attention to your own safety.
  • Drive away from the avalanche.
  • Do not leave the car.
  • Stop outside the danger area.
In settlements
  • Pay attention to your own safety.
  • Do not leave the building.
  • Await official announcements in a safe place on the valley side of the ground floor or basement.
  • If you are outdoors: seek protection inside or (in the flow direction of the avalanche) behind a building.

Recommended action after an avalanche

The lives of people buried by an avalanche are in immediate peril. They must be rescued as quickly as possible.

On transportation routes
  • Pay attention to your own safety and be aware of the danger of secondary avalanches.
  • Stop outside the danger area.
  • Raise the alarm by telephone (police 117, paramedic assistance 144, REGA air rescue 1414, emergency services 112).
  • Follow instructions issued by the emergency services.
  • If possible, establish location of buried victims, dig them out and administer first aid.

In settlements
  • Pay attention to your own safety and be aware of the danger of secondary avalanches. Be aware of the danger of damaged buildings collapsing.
  • Raise the alarm by telephone (police 117, paramedic assistance 144, emergency services 112, local avalanche service).
  • Follow instructions issued by the emergency services.
  • Take action to minimise consequential damage (e.g. caused by melt water).
  • Report damage to the buildings and contents insurers as soon as possible.
  • Make a record of the damage if possible.
  • Do not remove damaged parts of buildings, fixtures, fittings or furniture until they have been inspected by the insurance experts (except for immediate action to prevent consequential damage).