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When large masses of ice or snow come loose and sweep down mountain sides they are referred to as avalanches. They can cause great damage to property and environment and even people moving outside of the boundaries of areas marked as being safe slopes. When masses of snow come loose on roofs they are referred to as roof avalanches, and if the roof is very high, there can be excessive damage, including to cars parked below. Ridge turrets can prevent these kinds of avalanches.

The most famous version of an avalanche is the snow slip. It is characterized by a tear that is shaped like a line along a slope; this kind of avalanche is generally triggered by skiers, but there must be other prerequisites for this to happen. The slope must have a certain incline, and northern and eastern slopes are less endangered as a result of less insolation. A thick forest will prevent a snow slip from coming down, but not necessarily avalanches consisting of lose snow or powder.

Even snow fall does not promote a snow slip from going down, but snow drifts, which can gather and become moulds on the side of ridges and gorges facing away from the snow.

A lose snow avalanche is characterized by a point-shaped fissure. As opposed to the snow slip it occurs mainly in snow that has not hardened.

Powder avalanches are less dangerous as a result of the force of the mass of snow but as a result of the fluctuations in air pressure they can unroof houses and demolish windows. They occur when large masses of snow plunge down steep slopes and in doing so disperse the snow. This snow-air mixture can cause people to
suffocate when it is inhaled.

A lot of effort goes into preventing damage in areas threatened by avalanches. This kind of danger is already accounted for when a building approval is granted and if the danger is too great, the approval is not granted. Also, protective fences and concrete roofs and projections can protect roads from avalanches and thus grant safe traffic conditions in winter. If avalanches cannot be avoided, they are triggered intentionally by explosions to contain the damage.

The most important measure to take to protect people is to issue avalanche warnings. Areas that are safe from avalanches are marked. According to the general snow and weather condition additional areas are blocked or released again. When fatal accidents continue, then generally on account of the fact that these warnings were not heeded.

The appropriate safety equipment comes in very handy for people who work for the mountain rescue service and other people who must spend time in dangerous areas.

This includes LVS devices, avalanche shovels, and avalanche sensors to locate people, First-Aid equipment and cell phones to inform the mountain rescue service.