How to Survive a Landslide

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You’re out on the balcony, soaking up the stunning views of the valley’s hills. All of a sudden, a violent storm starts to form. You notice the trees along the mountain swaying and falling in the wind. The collapsing forest quickly turns into an enormous wave of trees, dirt and debris. Don’t stand your ground. A landslide is destroying everything in sight and this one’s heading straight for you. Here’s how to survive a landslide.

A landslide is the movement of soil, rocks or other types of debris down a slope. Landslides may not look as massive as earthquakes or tsunamis, but they can be just as devastating. About four 8 million people were affected by landslides in the last 20 years. But not all landslides are the same. Rock falls are barrages of loose rock that tumble down steep slopes. They can be caused by earthquakes and mining. Their size can range from teeny tiny pebbles to huge, hulking boulders. Mudslides happen when dirt and debris become saturated with water. Mudslides are often caused by heavy rain or volcanic activity. They can be a slow, creeping sludge or a fast all consuming wave. Where should you go if you can’t outrun a landslide?

What’s your last resort if you do get swallowed up by one?

Step one

Prepare. Like in most natural disasters, you’ll have the best chance of surviving if you prepare in advance. Have an emergency kit ready with food, water, flashlights, first aid supplies and emergency blankets. You’ll also want to create and practice an evacuation plan. Identify all the escape routes from your home and workplace. Choose a meeting spot in case you get separated from family and friends. You may only have minutes to get out of your home.

Step two

Pay attention. If you live by a mountain or hilly terrain, you could be at risk of a landslide. So listen up. Look for tilted trees, new holes or bare spots along the hillside. Listen for sounds like rumbling or trees cracking and pay attention, especially if the authorities are telling you to evacuate. If you think there’s a risk of a landslide, don’t even think about getting some shuteye. Be on the alert and stay awake. Most landslide deaths occur when people are sleeping. But it’s too late to run. The landslide is right outside your doorstep.

Step Three

Get to higher Ground if you can see a landslide moving towards you, chances are you probably can’t outrun it. Stay inside and move upstairs or onto higher ground. Then hunker down underneath some sturdy furniture and wait it out. Getting to a higher spot can help you stay out of the path of the landslide. But what can you do if you’re caught outside during a landslide? Don’t hide behind a tree or anything. Unstable landslides can be strong enough to push them onto you. Find any possible structures you can hide in to protect you from the debris. Look. Hide over there. You start running towards the building closest to you and the uh oh.

Step four

The last resort. With no shelter close by and nothing to climb on, your last resort is to brace yourself. If you have an emergency blanket, cover yourself with it to protect your body. Then curl up in a ball, protect your head from debris, and avoid inhaling water. Luckily, if you are caught in a landslide, there’s a chance you won’t be buried completely. Once the flow stops, the dirt might be loose enough that you can dig yourself out. The dust has settled and the landslide has come to a halt. Congratulations. You survived a catastrophic landslide. Unfortunately, the landslide carried you all the way to the middle of a forest. Where are we? How do we get out? Don’t worry. We’ll help you get out on how to survive.

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