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Self-protection advice and recommendations

It is important to know how to act when faced with dangerous phenomena such as slope movements. Below we explain a number of self-protection rules to follow during and after a phenomenon occurs.

Slope movements, such as slides, falls and flows, consist of rocks, soil and/or mud that slide down a slope. They can be large or small, fast or slow. In Catalonia they are mainly triggered by intense and/or persistent rain, frost-thaw cycles and by changes made by man to slopes.

Before the phenomenon

  • It is important to find out about the risk of slope movements in the area we live in and in the areas we visit.
  • Zones close to slopes with steep inclines, cliffs, streams and channels must not be built on.
  • During heavy rains you should not go near the bottom of slopes where slides and falls could occur. If you must go near them, pay close attention.
  • It is important to know where rainfall flows near the areas we frequent. These are areas to avoid during heavy rains.
  • If you have built in a risk area, the danger can be minimised by taking protection measures. It is important to seek advice from professionals

 Learn to recognise signs of danger

  • The landscape can show changes such as small earth movements, leaning trees or changes in the draining of the terrain.
  • Doors and windows suddenly close badly or their frames are misshapen.
  • New cracks appear in the building.
  • External elements of the housing or auxiliary structures, such as sheds, swimming pools, ladders, pathways, barriers and walls, shift or lean.
  • Cracks and upwarps appear in the ground, roads and pavements.
  • Service pipes break.
  • The terrain is deformed at the bottom of slopes.
  • The slope of the land changes direction.
  • Water filters or soaks land in places where before it didn’t.
  • If the phenomenon is occurring, a sound similar to thunder can be heard, which gets louder as it gets closer.
  • Unusual sounds of trees breaking or stones crashing into each other could indicate a slope movement.

Areas susceptible to slope movements

  • Where there have been slope movements before.
  • At the top or the bottom of slopes.
  • In channels or next to rivers and streams.
  • Embankments.
  • At the top of or beneath cliffs and very steep slopes.

Areas which are generally safe from slope movements

  • Solid, unfractured rock.
  • Flat areas, far from areas with changes in slope.
  • A certain distance away from the top of cliffs.

When the phenomenon is occurring

  • If you are in an area at risk you must leave as quickly as possible. You must be away from the path of slope movement.
  • You must pay attention to unusual sounds that could indicate that the terrain is moving. Small slope movements could precede larger ones.
  • Travel with caution along roads signposted with danger of falls, particularly when it is raining or has rained, as you could encounter rocks, soil and/or mud on the road.
  • Do not cross rivers and streams if the road is flooded. The force of the water together with the mud and stones it could carry can cause serious damage and even death.
  • If you are close to a creek or channel, pay close attention to sudden changes in water level. These changes could indicate that a slope movement has occurred further upstream.
  • In situations of danger, look for a safe place and leave all your belongings behind.
  • If you suspect an imminent slope movement or if it has occurred, inform emergency services, neighbours and if necessary help move them away from the danger zone.

After the phenomenon

  • If the slide or fall has affected your home, leave as quickly as possible to a distant and safe area.
  • When driving through heavy rain, pay attention to the road and its slopes as these are susceptible to slope movements. Look out for mud, rocks or distortions on the road, as these could indicate a movement.
  • Travel with caution along roads signposted with danger of falls, particularly when it is raining or has rained, as you could encounter rocks, soil and/or mud on the road.
  • Don’t remain in the area of the phenomenon or nearby, another could occur.
  • Inform emergency services providing as much information as possible as to the place and damage, particularly if you have seen people affected.
  • Leave telephone lines free.