Avalanche Airbag Packs

Avalanche airbag or balloon packs can help reduce the severity of the effects of being caught in an avalanche by reducing burial depth (or even preventing burial), and/or facilitating rapid localization. They also help with visibility and may provide some degree of trauma protection.

It’s crucial to remember that an airbag is not a silver bullet. You need to know how to set it up and deploy it properly. Even if deployed properly, you can still be buried with an airbag pack on. Failure to deploy the bag, failure to set up the equipment properly (e.g. using the crotch strap), and failure to recognize the seriousness of terrain traps have all occurred for airbag users and resulted in death.

Remember, even if you have an airbag pack you must also carry a transceiver, shovel and probe and know how to use them.

Emergency Communcation

Although not a substitute for companion rescue or self-sufficiency, emergency communication is valuable. Cell phones may work close to ski areas, cities or along highway corridors. Satellite phones work in most remote locales. VHF radios are an option but require a license. Personal locator beacons such as InReach or SPOT are also a good option.

No matter what you use, it’s important to know your rescue options and whom you want to talk to. If possible have the phone number of the agency you want. If you don’t have that, ask 911 for your local RCMP and get them to initiate a SAR response.

Also, recognize that these electronic devices come with electromagnetic interference. It’s critically important to keep them separated from your transceiver when transmitting, and even more important when searching with a transceiver (generally 50cm).