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Know Before
You Go

Know Before You Go is a free avalanche awareness program. Not much science, no warnings to stay out of the mountains, no formulas to memorize. In 1 hour, you will see the destructive power of avalanches, understand when and why they happen, and how you can have fun in the mountains and avoid avalanches.

Why KBYG?

Avalanches kill an average of 42 people each year in North America. Hundreds more are injured. Avalanches don't just happen to extreme athletes - they can happen to those skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, hiking, driving, hunting, bike riding, and more - anyone who can get onto or underneath steep snow-covered slopes. Many avalanche victims don’t know they are in avalanche danger and are unprepared to deal with an avalanche. This doesn't have to happen – the danger signs are usually obvious to those who know what to look for. Just as those in Hawaii learn about the dangers of rip tides and shore breaks at an early age, those living, working, and recreating in snowy mountains need to learn about avalanches. What they learn can save their lives.

The Know Before You Go program was created in 2004 to teach people what they need to know to have fun and stay safe in avalanche terrain. The program was developed for middle and high school audiences but has been popular with all age groups. Know Before You Go was designed as a free 3/4 to 1 1/2 hour presentation, has been approved as a middle school PE credit in Utah, and can be presented in a classroom, school assembly, ski, snowboard, or snowmobile shop, community center - anywhere people can assemble to watch a powerful video and slide presentation.

What you don't know can kill you. Before you go into the mountains in winter, Know Before You Go.

39

Deaths on Average in North America from Avalanches in the Last 10 Years

37%

of Fatal Avalanches in the U.S. Occured when the Danger was Forecast Considerable

200+

MPH Speeds Avalanches can
Reach as they Gain Mass

Avalanche Fatalities Per Year in the USA

As backcountry activities are growing in popularity so are the number of avalanche related deaths. Follow the Know Before You Go program to have the safest experience you can!

The Program

The Know Before You Go program takes 40-80 minutes to present, will fit within a school class or assembly period, and consists of:

  • An engaging video showing the destructive power of avalanches and what you need to know to stay safe in avalanche terrain
  • A local avalanche professional telling their avalanche stories
  • A slide presentation with more details about how to spot avalanche danger, how to navigate in avalanche terrain, what gear to carry and how to use it, how to find a report of current avalanche conditions in your area, and how to learn more about avalanches
  • Discussion with question and answers

Do you have safety meetings for your employees? A KBYG talk is more exciting and engaging than talking paper cuts and ladder safety and helps keep your employees happy and safe. You provide a time and place and help us promote the event and we will do the rest.

The program can be extended to go outside in smaller groups to provide safe opportunities for students to dig snow pits and practice with avalanche rescue gear.

If you would like to arrange for KBYG to be presented to your school class, scout troop, customers, or community, please contact your closest avalanche center, AIARE, or the central KBYG office.

The program is free, although as a non-profit organization, donations are always welcome.

If you'd like to become a local KBYG presenter, contact us.

"It was unbelievable! There was an extremely high interest in the assembly. I didn't realize how many snowboarders we had in our school. The assembly was so good for our students. The timing for the assembly was just right - right before winter break in December. It was just awesome!"

-Gary Allen, Principal

"This assembly has made an everlasting impression in my mind. I will never forget the message that was put across. This assembly should be mandatory for all schools to see - 6th through 12th grades, along with their parents, too. It can and will save people’s lives. The footage shown in the avalanche video is phenomenal! The educational value placed upon this assembly is priceless."

-Raquel Fuller, Health/P.E./Dance Educator

"In twenty years as an educator, the avalanche assembly was the best assembly I've ever seen! It was incredible! It was not just what the student's needed to see and hear, but the teachers as well. The video presentation was not only captivating and interesting, but highly informative and very well done. It was spectacular!"

-Ron Goodrich, TLC/Shop Educator

Know the Steps

The Know Before You Go program stresses five steps of preparation to ensure the safest possible skiing/snowboarding experience when in uncontrolled areas.

1 Get The Gear

  • Always carry a transceiver, probe, and shovel in the backcountry to help you find a buried partner and be found
  • Always carry your gear on your body with your transceiver turned on
  • Consider riding with an inflatable pack to increase your chances of staying on top of an avalanche
  • Practice with your gear regularly. Seconds count and your gear only works when you can use it confidently and efficiently in bad conditions
  • Carry the gear and supplies you need to survive an injury or a long evacuation in winter conditions
  • Be able to communicate with your partners and rescuers
  • Remember that your gear helps you have a safer and more fun day - it does not guarantee your safety

2 Get The Training

  • Take an avalanche class and learn the basics of:
    • Different kinds of avalanches and how they occur
    • How terrain choices and changing weather impact your safety
    • How to travel in avalanche terrain to minimize your risk
    • How to make smart decisions as a group
    • How to rescue one or more buried people
    • How your actions can impact the safety of other groups
  • Learn how to provide first aid to an injured member of your party
  • Keep your skills current
    • Read
    • Study accident reports
    • Take refresher classes

3 Get The Forecast

  • Go to Avalanche.org to find your local avalanche center andgetthe forecast before you go out
  • Note the avalanche problems you expect to find and understand how different problems require different tactics
  • Be aware of any control work planned for where you intend to ride
  • Conditions can change quickly and some riding areas are not covered by up-to-date forecasts - be prepared to assess conditions yourself
  • Do the research - be prepared with maps, understanding of the terrain, and reports from others
  • Create a riding plan before you head out
    • Set objectives and restrictions based on forecast conditions and group desires and capability
    • Make sure everyone understands the plan and agrees with it
    • Let someone know where you plan to go and when you plan to return

4 Get The Picture

  • Be aware of hazardous or changing conditions
    • Recent avalanche activity
    • Changing wind, snowfall, temperature
    • Cracking or collapsing snow
    • Recent wind deposited snow
  • Does what you see on the ground match the forecast?
    • Conditions can change quickly and forecasts are not guarantees - re-assess as you go
  • Use test slopes
    • Low consequence
    • Representative aspect and elevation
  • Interactions with other groups - be aware of
    • Groups above you
    • Groups below you
    • Roads & buildings below you
    • Control work nearby
  • Never intentionally trigger an avalanche unless you are sure the area below is clear
  • Group dynamics
    • Is anyone outside their comfort zone?
    • Is the group discussing options and concerns?
  • Identify safer and more hazardous terrain and minimize your exposure

5 Get Out Of Harms Way

  • Only one person on a suspect slope at a time
    • Don't help a buddy find a lost ski orgetunstuck in hazardous terrain
    • Cross or ride suspect slopes one at a time
  • Don't stop in an area exposed to avalanche hazard
    • Watch each other, eat lunch, and regroup out of the way of a potential avalanche
  • Stay in contact with one another
    • Voice
    • Visual
  • Don't enter a closed area or any place undergoing control work
  • Know what terrain traps are and avoid them

Contact your Local Avalanche Center!

To find out more about classes near you please contact your local avalanche center. For those who do not have an avalanche center please contact Avalanche.org for more information.

Get the Materials

Presentation materials are available in several formats to qualified avalanche professionals wishing to present the program. You can get the following program materials:

  • Know Before You Go video
  • Knowledge Is Powder video
  • Know Before You Go slide deck, basic version (short version for school groups) in .pdf format (ready to play, can't be modified)
  • Know Before You Go slide deck, basic version (short version for school groups) in .pptx format (can be modified, might require some work to get the embedded video to play on your computer)
  • Know Before You Go slide deck, long version (for adult groups or presentations longer than 50 minutes) in .pdf format (ready to play, can't be modified)
  • Know Before You Go slide deck, long version (for adult groups or presentations longer than 50 minutes) in .pptx format (can be modified, might require some work to get the embedded video to play on your computer)
  • Video of Craig Gordon, KBYG originator, presenting (for presenter training) 

By receiving KBYG materials, you agree to be put on a mailing list for program updates and  to respond to a season-end request for information to allow us to track where KBYG is being presented and to how many people.

Program materials are available on DVD or to download to qualified avalanche professionals for educational purposes only and may not be used for commercial purposes. You may modify the slide deck to suit your local issues and conditions.  All materials are copyrighted and may not be used for non-educational purposes.  Local sponsor credits may be added but program sponsors shown in the original slide deck may not be deleted. 

The KBYG program was developed with generous grants from our sponsors and depends on the sharing of community resources. We welcome your feedback and encourage you to share slides that you add to the program to help continuously improve KBYG across North America. Contact Us

Please complete the form below if you would like to access course materials. We will review the submission and respond accordingly.

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