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Human Factor in Avalanche Accidents

The Role of Training in Recreational Avalanche Accidents in the United States

ISSW 2000, Big Sky, MT

SYNOPSIS: Does avalanche education make difference? This study reviewed 344 avalanche accidents and found that trained victims and novices had exposed themselves to similar objective hazards. However, trained victims more frequently used mitigation measures like carrying rescue gear and going one at time.

Evidence of heuristic traps in recreational avalanche accidents

ISSW 2002, Penticton, BC

Were experienced avalanche victims fooled by mental shortcuts into thinking the slope was safe? This study reviewed 598 U.S. avalanche accidents and identified correlations between hazard exposure and four heuristic traps: Familiarity, Social Proof, Commitment and Scarcity.

Sex, drugs and the white death: Lessons for avalanche educators from health and safety campaigns

ISSW 2004, Jackson, WY

Can avalanche education really reduce avalanche deaths? This article reviewed the health & safety literature and found that information-only campaigns tend to have minimal effect on the incidence of undesired behavior. In contrast, campaigns that emphasize risk management tools like risk ladders and mitigation skills meet with more frequent success.

Human factors in avalanche accidents: Evolution and interventions

ISSW 2009, Davos, Switzerland

Human factors are subtle and potentially deadly errors in avalanche terrain. But how can they be effectively managed? This position paper reviews five intervention strategies that can be leverage to design effective decision making tools.

Beyond the human factor: A matter of semantics?

The Avalanche Review, Vol. 29, No. 4, April 2011

To address the hazards within us, we have to look at the big picture. This is a short position paper on how the very words "human factor" might blind us to real solutions.