7. Can the consequences of avalanches be influenced by human behaviour?

When the human factor enters into the avalanche incident, this natural event turns into a disaster. According to records, most of the avalanche accidents are caused by human factors not only as a load, but because of ignorance or carelessness.

Since the majority of human-triggered snow avalanches (as it has been said beforehand) occurs after the passage of skiers on already unstable snow packs, the first prevention measure to be undertaken, so as to strongly reduce the negative effects (in this case on human health) is with no doubt a correct behaviour of skiers, above all off the ski runs. That correct behaviour implies consulting avalanche bulletins before going backcountry skiing, the knowledge of the snow pack conditions and of the safest tracks to follow and, not least, a proper equipment comprising: active sensors in case of avalanche burial (such as Arvas etc.) and other devices for personal protection or rescue in case of avalanche danger, such as helmets, inflating jackets to “swim on the avalanche”, small portable oxygen tanks, portable shovels, foldable probes for searching buried people etc.).

Figure 10 : Avalanche hazard signs advising back country skiers of the current avalanche danger level. Source: www.straight.com