About Avalanche Safety Equipment
- An avalanche transceiver or beacon is the most expensive piece of avalanche safety equipment. It is used to transmit and receive a radio signal, which is vital in locating a buried victim. Transceivers should be set to "transmit" at the beginning of the trip so that they will transmit a signal in the event that a burial occurs.
- While a transceiver is useful in finding the general location, a probe is used to dig deep into the snow and find the specific whereabouts of the victim. This important so that he can be efficiently dug out.
- A shovel is necessary for digging out a victim. A popular misconception is that the shovel is useful in digging oneself out. However, after an avalanche, snow sets like concrete. Digging oneself out will likely be impossible. Shovels are small and lightweight. They are often broken down into several pieces for storage.
- While the aforementioned three pieces of equipment are the most standard and required avalanche safety gear, other useful safety equipment includes a snow saw used for testing snow pack, an avalanche airbag, which can be inflated to prevent deep burial, and snow analysis kits.
- A backpack is the most efficient way of carrying the aforementioned equipment. Black Diamond makes several backpacks that include an AvaLung, which can help to lengthen breathing time after burial.
- While equipment is important, knowing how to effectively and quickly use it is even more important. Proper avalanche training and snow testing is also an important part of avalanche safety.