Add an airbag to your packing checklist the next time you head out to the slopes—it just may save your life. Last month, pro-snowboarder Meesh Hytner was riding in a backcountry competition near Montezuma, Colorado, when she triggered a class-3 avalanche, Gizmodo reports.
Hytner was luckily wearing a Backcountry Access Float 30, an airbag that ultimately saved her from getting caught in the storm of snow cascading down the mountain. She was able to lie flat, feet facing downhill, which helped her coast to safety and avoid injury.
“I felt like I was riding a mattress down the stairs,” Hytner told Backcountry Access.
Gizmodo writes that a similar safety procedure exists for surfers—V1, a wetsuit that inflates when you pull a cord, saving people from wipeouts and potentially drowning.
Natural disasters are terrifying in both their scale and our feeling of complete lack of control, so it helps to brush up every now and then on proper protocol. While you could be proactive and bring along an airbag or inflatable wetsuit when hitting the snow or surf, what should you do in the case of totally unplanned situations?
So, you’re caught in a flash flood: You’d be wise to keep an emergency kit at home and have a family communications plan in place, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advises. During a flood, you should listen to the radio or TV for information, but if evacuating, secure your home, turn off utilities, and get as high as you possibly can—possibly atop your roof. If driving, abandon your car if you can. If you’re already caught inside, wait for the water to fill the vehicle, after which the pressure will eventually pop open the doors and you may escape.
So, you’re caught in an earthquake: Most people living in earthquake-prone areas are familiar with hiding underneath a desk or doorway during an earthquake, but what about if you’re driving? First, pull over. Stay clear of trees, lamp posts, or anything that may fall on your vehicle. If you’re out in the mountains, you may find yourself in the middle of a landslide, so be sure to climb as high as you can to avoid rocks tumbling down your way.
So, you’re caught in a tornado: While floods and landslides may call for you to find higher ground, tornadoes call for you to get low. If you’re in a building, try to find a basement or safe room; “put as many walls as possible between you and the outside,” FEMA advises. If you’re in a car, get out and run for cover of a nearby structure. What if you’re outside with no buildings in sight? Lie flat in a ditch and cover your head with your hands.
Oh, and don’t try to outrun the tornado. Because it will win.