Avalanches don't happen by accident and most human involvement is a matter of choice, not chance. Most avalanche accidents are caused by slab avalanches which are triggered by the victim or a member of the victim's party. However, any avalanche may cause injury or death and even small slides may be dangerous. Hence, always practice safe route finding skills, be aware of changing conditions, and carry avalanche rescue gear. Learn and apply avalanche terrain analysis and snow stability evaluation techniques to help minimize your risk. Remember that avalanche danger rating levels are only general guidelines. Distinctions between geographic areas, elevations, slope aspect and slope angle are approximate, and transition zones between dangers exist. No matter what the current avalanche danger, there are avalanche-safe areas in the mountains.
Although there are no substitutes for taking and really learning about the avalanche triangle (snow, weather and terrain) by taking a multi-day avalanche course, viewing and understanding the basics contained within the excellent short Avalanche Tutorial (developed by the Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Center) can help start the education process. This tutorial is highly recommended for anyone heading out into the back country. Gaining knowledge is a powerful tool that can help with route finding and stability evalution...and hopefully help avoid your getting caught by avalanches or otherwise involved in an avalanche accident.
However, despite the best-laid plans, accident involvements still occur far too frequently as recent statistics indicate. In most back country avalanche accident situations, time is critical and how YOU or memebers of your party respond to the incident strongly affects the outcome in this potentially life and death situation. To this end, the Canadian Avalanche Association has developed an excellent tutorial on helping the aware traveler gain an insight and understanding as to the most appropriate responses in such an event. This Avalanche First Response training program helps answer the very important question: "will you have the skills to save yourself and your friends?"