What You Should Do if a Landslide Occurs
What to Do During a Landslide
Once a landslide begins, there isn't much anyone can do except get out of the path. The key is to prepare ahead of time and know the signs of an impending landslide.
Do Not Build Near Steep Slopes, Close to Mountain Edges, Near Drainage, or Natural Erosion Valleys
This is common sense, but goes against where most people want to live. If you live in one of these areas, be sure to get a detailed ground assessment of your property. Contact the Town of Jackson or Teton County Department of Planning and Development for more information.
Discuss With Your Insurance Agent Coverage for Landslides if You Live in a Susceptible Area
Some policies will cover damages due to landslides, others will not. Some National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance policies also cover debris flows (landslides, mudslides, etc.) Even if your policy states that landslides are covered, if that landslide is originally caused by an earthquake or a volcano, you may need a special rider on your policy to cover that. For all of these issues, contact your insurance agent for more information.
Minimize the Hazards at Your Property
Have flexible fittings installed on your utilities to avoid breakage in the event of a landslide (or earthquake, for that matter). If your property is on a hillside, plant ground cover to help prevent erosion and build retaining walls to hold back debris.
Recognize the Warning Signs of a Potential Landslide
If you see these signs and suspect a landslide is occurring or beginning to occur, call the Teton County Sheriff's Office at 307-733-2331. Remember, a landslide can be a very slow process but that doesn't make it any less dangerous. Recognizing these signs and notifying emergency services can save lives through advance evacuations. If it is an immediate emergency, as always, dial 911. Potential warning signs include:
- Bulging ground appears at the base of a slope.
- Changes in landscape such as different patterns of storm water drainage on slopes, land movement, small slides, or progressively leaning trees.
- Doors or windows stick or jam for the first time.
- New cracks appear in plaster, tile, brick, or foundations.
- Outside walls, walks, or stairs begin pulling away from the building.
- Slowly developing, widening cracks appear on the ground or on paved areas such as streets or driveways.
- Underground utility lines break.
- Water breaks through the ground surface in new locations.
- Fences, retaining walls, utility poles, or trees tilt or move.
- A faint rumbling sound that increases in volume as the landslide nears.
- The ground slopes in one direction and may begin shifting in that direction under your feet.
- Unusual sounds such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together.
- Collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks, along road embankments, which are particularly susceptible to landslides.
If in the Vicinity of a Landslide, Immediately Evacuate
Keeping your personal safety in mind, notify your neighbors and immediately evacuate the path of the landslide. Even a slow moving landslide has an incredible amount of force behind it, moving boulders, trees, and buildings. If you are caught in a landslide and escape is not possible, curl into a tight ball and protect your head with your hands.
Stay Tuned to Eas Broadcasts for Instruction Before, During, and Following the Disaster
Listen to your NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio or another Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcaster for instructions from emergency services before, during, and following a disaster.
After a Landslide, Do Not Return Home Until Authorities Advise it is Safe
One landslide can cause other landslides, flash flooding due to the loss of vegetation on slopes, damage to gas and power lines, plus disrupt other utilities such as sewage making areas uninhabitable. Wait until authorities check the area and say it is safe before returning. Listen to NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio or your local EAS station for instructions following a landslide.