How to Prevent Avalanches

Trees can help prevent avalanches
••• Photo by Ryn Gargulinski

An avalanche may seem like an inevitable occurrence, an act of Mother Nature. While that is partly true, there are things you can do to help prevent an avalanche from smothering everything that lies below. In addition to being cautious about your own actions when out in the snow, you can try several long-range prevention tactics.

    Plant groupings of trees on hillsides, scattered enough to slow down and break up any snow flow from above.

    Erect a large fence high on a mountaintop to help collect and balance the snow and deter an eventual avalanche.

    Use explosives to jar loose small buildups of snow. This prevents larger buildups that could lead to large, devastating avalanches.

    Use large stones. Place large wedges of stone below the mountaintop and above the basin into which the avalanche would fall. The stone wedges help keep snow in place.

    Watch your own actions. Avoid skiing on snow at the top of a mountain or hill if other people are directly below you, as the snow could break loose and crush them.

    Things You'll Need

    • Trees
    • Stones
    • Fence
    • Explosives


    • If you are enjoying winter activities out in avalanche territory, travel with a beacon and a shovel, and let other people know where you were heading so they can come look for you if you do not return.

      Check for avalanche updates at the Forest Service National Avalanche Center Avalanche Awareness Web site (see Resources).

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