IT’S NOT AS INNOCENT
AS IT LOOKS
WHY AVALANCHES CAN KILL YOU
In order to survive an avalanche, you cannot make any compromises. One fatal mistake in the backcountry and there are no second thoughts. While the avalanche-airbag is the only system that can prevent an actual burial, several factors such as the avalanche size and the position within the avalanche can prevent the airbag from doing its job. Also malfunctions are not uncommon. As a comprehensive study from 2014 found, the risk reduction of of avalanche airbags is “less than previously assumed”. With airbags, still 13 out of 100 persons caught by an avalanche die. Researches by the renowned Swiss avalanche research institute SLF have shown that for athletes carrying an airbag and being caught by an avalanche, there is still a considerable risk to be buried. 60% are thus completely or partly buried by the avalanche.
When swept away and buried by an avalanche you are almost immediately in lethal danger. It’s you against time. After only 18 minutes the chances of survival are reduced dramatically. Even under the best possible conditions it takes an average of 20 minutes for a rescue. So there is only a realistic chance of survival with a fast rescue or life-prolonging measures that allow breathing under the snow cover. In order to survive an avalanche, you cannot make any compromises. Every second counts.
IT’S ALL ABOUT TIME.