An avalanche or snow is a joint natural event in the winter season, which mostly occurs in areas with heavy snowfall. This natural disaster takes victims every year in Afghanistan and around the world. A drift forms when the wind blows snow and accumulates in a specific location, usually against an obstacle such as a building, fence, or tree.
Snowdrifts can be different in size and fall in the form of small and large snow hills that reach several meters in height. Snowdrifts can be dangerous for pedestrians and drivers because they block paths and roads and make their movement difficult. Snow drifts and heavy snowfall occur mainly in Afghanistan's northern and central provinces. One of the deadliest avalanche incidents occurred in February 2010 in Salang, Afghanistan, where several travelers were killed and injured.
This article discusses the safety tips for dealing with this because following simple safety tips on snowy days will make you less likely to have an accident.
Due to heavy wind-blown snow, snowdrifts are more likely to occur around mountains, hills, valleys, and steep spots. Wind and storms can collect and carry loose snow in a specific place on the ground and cause it to accumulate in areas with obstacles such as buildings, trees, or large rocks in the mountains. As the snow accumulates, it can form a snow hill, which we call a drift. The size and shape of the snow depends on the intensity and direction of the wind, as well as the size and shape of the obstacle that causes the accumulation of snow.
Adverse effects of avalanches on humans
Here are some points about the adverse effects of snowdrifts on humans:
- Snow drifts and heavy snowfall can block paths and roads, making it difficult for pedestrians and drivers to move safely.
- This blockage can significantly lead to accidents and injuries if heavy snow obstructs drivers' vision.
- Drifting snow can cause problems for homeowners by blocking doors, windows, and vents, leading to heating and ventilation problems.
- Snow drifts can cause damage to buildings and other facilities, which can be dangerous for people inside.
- Avalanche can cause injuries, broken bones, and other physical injuries to those stuck in the avalanche.
- Being stuck in snow can cause suffocation due to lack of oxygen.
- Exposure to cold temperatures due to drifting snow can lead to low human body temperature, which can be life-threatening.
- Avalanche survivors may experience psychological trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder.
It is impossible to completely prevent snowmelt because it is a natural occurrence in winter. However, some steps can be taken to minimize the adverse effects of an avalanche. Here are some ways to prevent or reduce the effects of snow drift:
- Avoid areas with unstable snow! Avalanches are more likely to occur on steep slopes with unstable snow, so it is essential to avoid these areas if possible.
- Houses and residences should not be built on the path of snow drifts because they will be damaged if snow drifts fall.
- Be aware of the snow and weather conditions! Pay attention to snow forecasts and weather reports to know the requirements. This can help you avoid areas that are at risk of avalanches.
- Travel together with others! Traveling with vehicles and other passengers at a suitable distance can provide more safety in avalanches. Ensure everyone in your group is equipped with the proper safety equipment and knows how to use it.
- Have safety equipment! Carry safety equipment when traveling in snowy areas. These tools can help you find and rescue someone stuck in a snowmobile.
- Participate in Barf Koch training courses! An avalanche safety course can provide valuable knowledge and skills to prevent and respond to avalanches. These courses cover snow analysis, route selection, and rescue techniques.
- Stay indoors during snowfall and avoid unnecessary travel.
- Wear warm, layered clothing; wear appropriate shoes and be cautious if you must go outside.
- Have emergency supplies available in case of power outages or other emergencies.
- If driving, ensure your vehicle is equipped for winter conditions and drive slowly and carefully.
- Remember that the best way to survive an avalanche is to care for yourself before getting caught. Always check snow conditions before traveling in areas with a risk of snow drifting.
What should be done during snow drifts?
If you are caught in an avalanche, it is essential to do the following:
- Try to move sideways! If you can, try to move to the side of the snow, so as not to get caught in the mainstream.
- Hold something! If you can't move sideways, try grabbing onto something like a tree or rock to prevent yourself from moving.
- Try to stay on top! If you get stuck in a snowdrift, try to stay on top of the snow using hand and foot movements.
- Create an airbag! If an avalanche buries you, try to create an air hole in front of your face so you can breathe.
- Keep calm and wait for help! Staying calm and conserving your energy while waiting for use is essential.
As a result, drifting snow can be a significant challenge during the winter season, creating problems for pedestrians, drivers, and homeowners. While avalanches cannot be wholly prevented, preventative measures can help minimize their impact. By being aware of the dangers of snowfall and taking the proper precautions, we can stay safe and avoid any adverse effects from these natural occurrences.
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