Whether you live on the side of a mountain or often find yourself hiking up one, landslides are a very real risk.Rainy conditions can create a dangerous situation in which a mountain of mud comes pouring down over you or your vehicle in an instant, and every outdoorsperson needs to know how to survive. Here are a few ways you can increase your chance of getting out alive when you get stuck in one of these natural disasters.
Stay Indoors When Possible
When you peek out your window and see a cascade of mud, trees and Mother Nature descending down on you, it might be tempting to flee your home. The truth is, if you can see the landslide coming, you’re unlikely to outrun it. Instead, find a secure spot in the center of your home and hunker down until it’s over.
If you’re stuck outdoors with no shelter in sight you might have no other option than to try and escape its path. This option only works if the landslide is slow moving—if you try and flee from a fast landslide it’ll overtake you. If it’s slow, you might be able to move far enough sideways to get out of the way before it hits—just don’t run in the same direction it’s moving.
Most land or mudslides are too large and quick to run away from. Your best bet, if you can’t find reliable shelter, is to curl up in a ball and protect your head. If you have a blanket or a tarp with you, use that to protect your exposed limbs. If the landslide overtakes you, there’s a chance it won’t end up covering you completely, or you might be able to dig your way out.
Remember, trying to hide behind a tree could be fatal if the landslide is strong enough to knock it over on top of you.
Stay Away From Water
One of the first signs of an impending landslide is an increase in water flow in rivers, lakes, and streams. Since they’re usually caused by strong storms, excessive rainfall is to be expected. Do not turn to any body of water as a source for shelter. After the landslide has stopped, remove yourself from the area as quickly as possible as continued rainfall and waters from above could still flood the area.
Listen to the Radio
If you’re hiking in the mountains during a storm, keep a radio on at all times. They provide you with warnings if conditions for a landslide are ripe—and it might be the only warning you get before one is upon you.
Know the Area
No matter where you’re hiking or living, always be familiar with the surrounding landscape. Study maps so you know available routes out of the path of the landslide. Familiarize yourself with roadways, bodies of water nearby, and any possible structures you could use as cover when the debris arrives. Planning ahead is the most important part of surviving any disaster.
If you find yourself dozing off during an impending severe storm it might be time to down some coffee. A large percentage of landslide fatalities occur when victims are asleep. Wait for the storm to pass and the radio to declare the area safe before turning in for the night. You might be a little groggy in the morning but at least you’ll be alive.