OUTDOORS + RECREATION

New tech aims to provide oxygen if trapped in an avalanche

Jan 13, 2023, 10:00 AM | Updated: 10:57 am
Outdoor retailers continue to innovate in the field of avalanche safety, and one company says they ...
An avalanche at Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (©Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News 2021)
(©Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News 2021)

SALT LAKE CITY — A beacon, a shovel and a probe are decidedly not new tech in the field of avalanche safety. These are the tried and true staples for those above and below the snow.

But outdoor recreation companies continue to innovate in this field, and one company says they have a vest that can help people breathe if they are trapped by an avalanche.

The company, Safeback Avalanche Gear, says the Safeback SBX air filter pulls oxygen out of snow crystals. By providing a pocket of oxygen without the need for a mouthpiece, It can possibly extend survivability up to 90 minutes after being buried.

However, avalanche forecasters say that doesn’t mean people should take more risks. And officials worry this device will replace other safety measures.

Craig Gordon with the Utah Avalanche Center said an air filter above the snow won’t help someone trying to dig someone out from under it.

While this can increase the chances of survivability, Gordon said he’s worried people will rely too much on this technology.  He reminds skiers and boarders to bring those old reliable staples — a shovel, beacon and probe — every time they’re recreating in the Utah snow.

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New tech aims to provide oxygen if trapped in an avalanche