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Buried alive: How to survive an avalanche

Every year avalanches kill more than 150 people and injure thousands. If you heard an avalanche approaching, would you know what to do?
/ Source: TODAY

Every year avalanches kill over 150 people and injure thousands. If you heard the rumble of an approaching avalanche, would you know what to do?

"The first thing you want to do is stay on top," said Sue Anderson of Wasatch Backcountry Rescue. "So you want to do a backstroke. Turn around; try and do anything you can to stay on top," she advised.

"If it comes over you and buries over your face, you want to fight, you want to swing, you want to punch," Anderson added. "You want to fight as hard as you can to try to stay on top of that snow. When that snow stops, it settles down as hard as concrete. You have about a second to punch to get that air way done."

But if you can't stay on top of the snow and are buried underneath, many types of ski pants and coats have a little tracking device stitched in called a Recco chip. It can lead search and rescue teams right to you.

TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen demonstrated by letting himself be buried in a snow cave. Homing in on the signal from the chip, Anderson led rescuers to dig him out.

There are also avalanche air bags: High-level skiers use them to stay on top of the snow.

Experts say it's important to never go skiing or hiking alone: Always have a buddy who can spot and save you, or call for help.

For tips on how to rescue a friend or family member if they get buried in an avalanche, visit the Rossen Reports Facebook page.