Always carry a beacon, a shovel, and a probe pole. Seriously consider wearing a helmet (nearly 30% of avalanche fatalities are caused by trauma) and wearing an Avalung (you can breathe up to one hour if you are completely buried). Wear releasable bindings...if your skis or snowboard stay on in an avalanche its just like jumping into a lake with them on...you are much more apt to get pulled to the bottom.
What about air bag packs? Air bag packs have saved many lives but they are not a substitute for a beacon, probe, and shovel. It is still possible to be buried with one of these, but you will be much closer to the surface. This means your partners can find you and dig you out much faster.
If your partner gets buried, you don't have time to go for help! You must save your partner...if you go for help it will be too late!
- Yell to alert your partners and other people that may be in the area. Watch the victim! Memorize the last seen point.
- Make sure it is safe to search. Don't become a victim yourself.
- Designate a leader and quickly develop a search plan.
- Look for surface clues like gloves, boots, and other equipment.
- Conduct a beacon search. Get close and probe BEFORE you dig.
Many buried victims die of asphyxiation within 10 minutes unless they are wearing an Avalung.
Your partner's survival is in your hands.
It is critical to attend an avalanche class to learn how to carry out a fast and effective rescue.
And then to frequently practice using your beacon and practice carrying out a rescue before you're faced with the real thing!
Rescues can be chaotic scary affairs; it may be getting dark, it may be cold, it may be stormy. Be prepared. Be ready! Know what you are doing!