Avalanche safety: Local experts weigh in

REI avalanche safety items
Copyright KXLY 4 News Now

SPOKANE, Wash. — At REI Co-Op, you kind find a bunch of different items you may need in case you go back-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or more.

There is an avalanche float bag. If you are buried under a lot of snow, this could help you or someone else, float to the surface.

“Once it’s filled, if you are in an avalanche, it can help to create an air pocket behind you so it’ll come up over your head a little bit so it can help create an air pocket,” said Seth Clock, a sales associate at REI. “So, if you are buried, it’ll help that volume, if you’re buried there’s a better chance of being found, hopefully.”

Another piece of equipment that might be important is a beacon.

“A beacon sends out a signal when you’re in a whole group, and it’s very important that all of your group have one,” said Kevin Pardue, a sales manager with REI.

There’s also a probe. It can go through snow and helps you find a person who is buried and know how deep they are.

Pardue said you should also know and trust the people you’re going up the mountains with, whether you’re going to a resort or to the back-country.

“You’re only as strong as the weakest person. So, if you’re skiing with someone who is not doing a great job of learning how to use the beacon or willing to dig out in that situation, you’re really putting yourself at risk,” Pardue said.

Anytime there is an incident, Pardue said they see more people coming in with questions on how to stay safe.

“We see the same thing every time there’s a bear incident. We sell a lot more bear spray after we have one of those. You have an avalanche and people think about it a little more,” he said.

Make sure to wear the right clothing, too, in case the weather changes. Being in shape will also help in an emergency situation.

“If you aren’t fit enough to perform it, it can be detriment to you and the whole group,” Pardue said.

REI in Spokane will hosting an avalanche awareness class on January 16 and it is free. This was already in place before the avalanche at Silver Mountain happened. To learn more about the event, click here.

RELATED: One person killed, 5 rescued from Silver Mountain avalanche