In North America, 1/4 of all avalanche fatalities are due to hitting a tree, rock, or other object during the slide. The other 3/4 die by asphyxiation. Their is plenty of air in the snow to breath, but a victim can’t access it. The snow around their mouth soon ices up and prevents exhaled air from circulating. The air in the victims air pocket soon becomes toxic as more and more carbon dioxide builds up, like they are trying to breath in a plastic bag. After 30 minutes, the likelihood of survival drops to 50%.
Your life depends on how well trained and practiced your partners are. Statistically, your chances aren’t good. In 78% of cases, recreational users performing a beacon search fail to recover their buried partner alive.
These grim facts underscore the importance of avalanche avoidance and the importance of practicing rescue skills.
By the end of this unit you should understand the basics of companion rescue. Ski patrollers and members of search and rescue organizations can click here for a discussion of organized rescue.
What are these rescuers doing wrong?
Citation: factcouraud. (2007, May 08). Rescue. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site:
Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Creative Commons License