Indian soldier Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad survived buried under 25 feet of snow for six days in Siachin glacier’s sub zero temperature, in what is being described as a miracle.
Here are six ways one can stay alive after being swept away by a cascade of snow and rock.
1. Stay Calm: Asphyxiation, the state of being deprived of oxygen, is the most common cause of death buried deep under snow . You have a 15-minute window to carve out space around you, so it’s vital you stay calm. Panic increases heart rate and speeds up breathing, using the precious oxygen around you.
2. Create an air pocket: Open a space in front of your face as soon as possible by moving your head from side to side. Next, move your body to create an air pocket so you have room to breathe before the cascading snow freezes and turns into ice.
3. Move sideways: Snow moves the fastest at the centre of an avalanche. So irrespective of whether it began above you for below your feet, moving sideways lowers your chance of getting sucked and buried under snow.
4. Ride the snow: If you are being swept away, try to ride the snow by keeping your head out and swimming as hard as you can in the direction of the moving snow. If the snow’s moving too fast and swimming is not possible, trash around so that you don’t sink .
5. Carry a beacon: Never, ever begin a snow adventure without an avalanche beacon, also known as an avalanche transceiver. This transmits a radio frequency that can be picked up by another beacon or receiver, which helps rescuers know exactly where to look for you under the snow.
6. Grab hold of something: Grabbing hold of a rock or tree will stop you from being swept away, but this works only in small avalanches. It will also prevent you from getting disoriented under the snow. If possible, move your arm above your head to help rescue-workers spot you under the snow.