Avalanche Air Bags Are Saving Lives

Every year, roughly 100,000 avalanches sweep down mountains across the U.S., damaging everything in their path and killing an average of 25 people. Of course, the best way to survive an avalanche is not to get caught in one in the first place. However, if you do happen to find yourself in that precarious position, there’s something you can do to increase your chances of survival. On the market now are avalanche airbags — essentially  a backpack with an integrated airbag system inside. The inflated airbag will make it less likely that you’ll be completely buried by an avalanche, potentially helping you to be rescued faster. Most airbag systems work on the same principle. Upon activation, the airbag is filled with air from an internally attached compressed gas container. This will inflate the airbag within 3 seconds, giving you additional volume that will help you keep as high up in the snowpack as possible. Just imagine a can of Brazil nuts — when you shake it, the larger nuts will gather at the top. That’s why this phenomenon is called the “Brazil nut effect” — with you being the Brazil nut. Although an avalanche airbag can significantly increase your chances of survival, it doesn’t provide any guarantees. That’s why you should always carry safety equipment such as an avalanche transceiver, an avalanche probe, and an avalanche shovel.