Never Head to the Mountains Without an Avalanche Beacon
It is unfortunate, but many people head out to go hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and more who never bother to buy and use an avalanche beacon. Even though people die each year from being in avalanches, most people have the mindset that this sort of thing happens to other people, not them and their family or friends. While no one likes to think about the possibility of an avalanche, they can and do happen. You need to take precautions. Not having an avalanche beacon would be like not putting on a seatbelt or not wearing a helmet on a motorcycle.
The Utah Avalanche Center found that around two-thirds of the fatalities around the country happened because the victims did not have rescue gear. It simply doesn’t make sense that so few people are investing in safety gear that has the potential to save their life.
It doesn’t matter if you are only going out for an hour or if you are in an area that you don’t think could have an avalanche. If you are heading out into the mountains during the snowy season, and if you have friends and family who do the same, everyone needs to have one of these beacons. If some people you know are reticent about buying a beacon, you could always buy it as a gift for the holidays or their birthday, for example. The safer everyone is, the more peace of mind you will have, and the better your excursions will be.
How Does the Avalanche Beacon Work?
All beacons use the 457kHz frequency regardless of their make and model. This is so they will all be able to work together regardless of the manufacturer. This is essential in any avalanche scenario, as you wouldn’t want people trying to find you to have to scan through multiple frequencies hoping they find the one that you are using. The options on the market are all compatible with one another, which means your group does not all have to commit to buying the same beacon. They are also compatible with old dual-frequency models.
The transceiver emits radio signals in pulses. If there is an avalanche and someone is buried, the other people who are in their group and wearing the beacon, as well as rescuers with beacons.
The transceivers that are being worn by the rescuers and others in the party can be turned to search mode in the event of an avalanche. They will then be able to receive the radio signal pulses from the buried avalanche beacon. The rescuers will be able to home in on the signal to find the location where the person was buried. This allows people to be found and dug out of the snow faster, which improves their chance of survival.
What Factors Are Important When Choosing an Avalanche Beacon?
We have selected the six best options you can find on the market today for avalanche transceivers. However, you will still want to make sure that you are getting the best option for your needs. Therefore, you will want to look at everything available with each of these beacons when you are making your choice. Certain types of features tend to be important when people are making their choice.
One of the first things to consider will be the type of display that the unit has. You can see that there are several different styles amongst the options on the list. Do you want to have a full LCD screen, or do you prefer another option? Regardless, you will want to make sure that the screen can communicate the direction and the distance of the victims. It should be bright and easy to use and understand, which ensures that you can still use the beacon in the darkness and difficult to see conditions. The unit should also be easy to use and manipulate.
Do you want to have the capability of being able to track and find multiple burials? This is an important feature that you will find standard on most of the avalanche beacons today. Still, make sure that the option you are considering can accommodate this function.
You will also want to consider the number of antennas, as well as the range of the device. Consider the size and the weight to ensure that it will be easy for you to use.
Where Should You Wear Your Avalanche Beacon?
You must be wearing your avalanche beacon properly. This means that you want to wear it on the inside of your gear with the harness, or that you put it into an interior pocket where it will not fall out or become lost during the day. There are far too many people who strap them to the outside of their bodies over their jackets. This is a terrible idea, as there is not only the chance that it could become lost during normal activities, but an avalanche could tear it off.
Avalanches are violent and fast, and they can potentially tear off the beacon, leaving it hundreds of yards from where the person is actually buried. You will want to make sure that you have it affixed to your body correctly. Make sure everyone else who is in your group does the same.
What Else Should You Have with You?
The avalanche beacon is an essential piece of safety gear. However, it is not the only type of rescue item that you might want to keep with you. It is also a good idea to have a few other things with you that can help with the rescue process. For example, you should have a small folding shovel, as well as an avalanche probe. While this might seem like a lot of extra gear to carry, it can make all the difference in the world when you are trying to find and rescue someone buried. Wouldn’t you rather have the right tools with you so you can help a friend or family member?
Practice Using the Beacons
You need to do more than buy the beacons and wait for the snow to arrive. Even though they are simple to use and they can provide protection, you need actually to know how to use them. This means that you need to practice using them when they arrive. Get together with others in your group who have beacons and then learn how to use them together. Take turns using the search function to learn how it works by having beacons from your group spread out across your yard. Learn how to focus on and find the signals at home, so it is something familiar and easy to do out in the real world.
You should also make it a point to test the beacons before you head out on each trip. Just because everything was working well last season or when you practiced with them a month ago does not mean that they are still working correctly. Right before your trip, take them out and test them. Be sure to check the battery levels at the same time.
Find Your Beacon Today
Now that you understand more about why you need to have an avalanche transceiver and the benefits they offer, and you have a list of great options to consider, it is time to make your choice. Before you and your friends and family head out to enjoy that beautiful winter weather, you will want to make sure that you all have high-quality, durable beacons and that you know how to use them. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you won’t need them. It’s far better to err on the side of caution.