Landslide Safety and Preparedness
Landslides are an unfortunate reality for many people. They can occur on steep slopes and in areas that have been affected by natural disasters or human activity. Landslides can be caused by flooding, earthquakes, heavy rainfall or snowmelt, volcanic eruptions, erosion due to poor forest management practices, or construction activities. Landslide occurrences are most likely to happen in mountainous regions where steep hillsides are common and soil moisture is abundant.
Even if you don't live in an area known for landslides you should still take precautions because it's not uncommon for people living near potential slide zones to experience one unexpectedly — especially during the spring thawing season when rapid changes in temperature can cause ground cracking which may trigger a landslide downslope from your house!
Warning Signs for Landslides
- Rapid swelling or cracking of the ground.
- Changes in water flow and level.
- Sudden appearance of cracks, fissures, or bulges on the surface.
- Steep slopes showing new movement after heavy rain.
If you think you’re at risk for landslides, there are several things you can do to prepare. You can check for signs of past landslides, create a map showing the location of your property and any nearby slopes prone to movement, and consider moving building materials (including furniture) away from the edge of steep slopes.
How to Prepare for a Landslide
To stay safe during a landslide, there are three things you can do:
- Get an evaluation of your property on the ground.
- Build far from natural erosion valleys, drainage channels, mountain edges, steep slopes, or steep slopes.
- Discover your region's emergency response and evacuation strategies. Create an emergency plan for your family or business on your own.
The most important thing you can do is to prepare for a landslide. The more prepared you are, the less likely it will be that your home or business will be damaged.
How to Respond to a Landslide
- Remain awake and aware. People often die in debris flows while they are asleep. For warnings of heavy rain, tune in to a NOAA Weather Radio or a portable, battery-operated radio or television.
- If it is safe to do so, think about evacuating if you are in a location where landslides and debris flows are a possibility. Keep in mind that driving during a severe thunderstorm might be dangerous.
- If you're close to a stream or channel, keep an eye out for any rapid changes in water flow—such as a switch from clear water to muddy water—or changes in terrain (elevation) on either side of the creek bed.
- If there is no place else for shelter and/or evacuation is not possible, stay away from the slide area when rockfall begins but avoid direct contact with wet rocks because they may be extremely slippery until they dry out.
What to Do After a Landslide?
- Avoid the area around the slide. There could be a risk of more slides.
- For the most recent emergency information, tune in to local radio or television stations.
- Without going into the area directly affected by the slide, search the region for any injured or trapped people.
- Help a neighbor who might need particular help, such as a newborn, an old person, or a person with a disability.
The best way to prepare for landslides is to be aware of the dangers and take proactive measures. By doing so, you can help your property and those around you avoid costly damages and even injury. If a landslide does occur, respond quickly to minimize damage.