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CNET News Video: Tech to help you survive an avalanche
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CNET News Video: Tech to help you survive an avalanche

2:22 /

From air bags to mobile apps to the newest distress beacons, CNET's Sumi Das shows you the tech you should and shouldn't depend on if you decide to explore the backcountry.

-Backcountry may promise fresh tracks and fewer crowds, but it also carries considerable risks. The holy trinity of avalanche safety tools is a must. -Probe is to look for someone buried in the snow and then a shovel to dig them out, and a beacon, the absolute necessity to find someone when you can't see them. -Beacons can both emit signals when you're lost and receive signals when you're searching for someone. -The newest in beacons is a third antenna, oriented vertically if the first two are crossed this way. And that one can tell depth. -Other Backcountry staples include Avalungs that reduce the risk of carbon dioxide poisoning if buried in snow. In the unfortunate event that you're caught in an avalanche, you're more likely to be rescued faster if you're closer to the surface. An airbag helps you float to the top. To use it, yank on this trigger. Airbag system from Mammut with its horseshoe shape is designed to prevent head, neck, and chest injuries. Current airbags inflate using air cartridges. Filled canisters aren't permitted on airplanes, but a new kind of airbag hits stores this November. Black Diamond has developed the Halo 28 pack which uses a jet fan for inflation. -Statistics show that you'll have a shallow burial if wearing an airbag versus not. -As for the tech to avoid, well, some smartphone apps give the impression they offer beacon-like features, they fall short in many ways, including battery life and loss of signal range in snow conditions. -Arguably, more significant is the incompatibility of these systems with existing rescue systems as well as the non-compatibility with the apps themselves. -Ask any avalanche expert, there is no get-out-of-jail free card. -There is a general idea out there that if I have this equipment and I know how to use it, I'm safe, and that is really not true. -Equipment is no substitute for education. An avalanche safety course is a good start. In Lake Tahoe, I'm Sumi Das, CNET for CBS News.

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