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General recommendations before an avalanche

You can take specific precautions to prepare for situations in which heightened avalanche danger exists. Taking such action can reduce the risk of people being injured and buildings or other physical assets being damaged.

Protecting buildings

Avalanches can damage or destroy buildings. People are exposed to a danger both inside and outside buildings.

  • The district authority or the cantonal authority responsible for natural hazards knows which buildings are situated in an area that is exposed to an avalanche danger.
  • Consult an expert on possible protective measures.

Before the onset of winter

If you live in a building that is situated in an avalanche-prone zone (red or blue danger zone), you should investigate the following and take the appropriate action before the winter starts:

  • Familiarise yourself with the sources of information concerning the current avalanche danger and officially prescribed measures (obtain telephone number and Internet address of the local authority and avalanche service, subscribe to text messaging services)
  • Make certain that you can be contacted by telephone (give your telephone number to the local authority / avalanche service)
  • Inspect the means of securing windows and doors (e.g. shutters)
  • Prepare rooms on the ground floor / in the basement where you would be able to live for several days
  • Make sure that you are able to contact, and receive information from, the authorities from these rooms (telephone, battery-operated radio)
  • Replenish emergency provisions ( guidance of the Federal Office for National Economic Supply)
  • Arrange the possibility of accommodation for a few days with relatives / friends who live outside the endangered area

In case of elevated avalanche danger

Observe the following instructions if heightened avalanche danger exists:

  • Continuously monitor information concerning the current situation and officially prescribed measures (by telephone / text messaging / internet)
  • Follow instructions issued by the authorities
  • Close window shutters on the side of the building facing the slope and the adjacent sides
  • Do not leave the building
  • Extinguish open fires and flames
  • Switch off electrical appliances (except the central heating)
  • Maintain contact with the district authority / avalanche service / police
  • Prepare to evacuate


Any evacuation made necessary by the avalanche danger will be directed and conducted by the avalanche service in consultation with the district authorities. You can prepare for an evacuation by taking the following action:

  • Keep warm clothing and sturdy footwear to hand
  • Pack a rucksack or small suitcase with personal items
  • Gather important documents

Winter sports participants

If you engage in winter sports beyond the boundaries of marked and open pistes, or cross-country ski or hiking trails, you inevitably enter unsecured territory. In such locations, you are exposed to avalanche danger and can release avalanches yourself. Observe the following rules in order to reduce the risk of an avalanche accident:

  • Obtain information concerning the current avalanche danger
  • Modify behaviour according to the conditions
  • Carry emergency equipment and learn how to use it (avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe pole)
  • Attend an avalanche course on tour planning, terrain assessment and companion rescue
  • In case of doubt, remain on-piste or join a group with a professional guide