Avalanche season is reaching its peak in B.C., and the BC Coroners Service is encouraging all those going out into the backcountry – be it on skis, snowboards or snowmobiles – to take special care to ensure their own safety and that of others.
Over the past several winters, avalanche awareness has been improving. A higher proportion of backcountry users are carrying essential avalanche safety equipment-transceivers, shovels and probes. Avalanche airbag packs are highly effective when worn/deployed properly (including the leg-strap).
However, many still have not taken enough training to use that equipment with maximum effectiveness. A person buried in an avalanche can suffocate in minutes – long before help can arrive – so the ability to perform quick and effective self-rescue and companion rescue is vital.
Information about training courses is provided on the CAC website at: www.avalanche.ca. This training is essential for anyone planning to venture into the backcountry in winter.
A study on avalanche deaths from the past 16 years found that: Between Jan. 1, 1996, and Dec. 31, 2012, there were: An average of 10.1 avalanche-related deaths each year, 68.0 per cent decedents of avalanche-related deaths occurred in the Interior region, 40.9 per cent of decedents were snowmobiling, 30.9 per cent were skiing, 18.2 per cent were heli-skiing, 5.0 per cent were snowboarding and 4.4 per cent were hiking or climbing.
Virtually all of these deaths were preventable.