So-called rescue transceivers might not save you in avalanche

The Canadian Avalanche Centre has concerns about new smartphone apps marketed as devices that help find people buried in avalanches.

The Canadian Avalanche Centre harbours serious concerns about new smartphone apps being marketed as rescue transceivers — devices that help find people buried in avalanches.

The CAC says three European-made apps — iSis Intelligent (Mountain) Rescue System, Snøg Avalanche Buddy and SnoWhere — can give backcountry users a false sense of protection.

The centre has found a number of issues with the technology, namely compatibility and frequency range.

Transceivers conform to an international standard of 457 kHz (kilohertz), chosen because of accuracy and the ability to transmit through dense snow without being deflected by trees, rocks and other objects. Regardless of brand, all transceivers can be used to search and find other transceivers.

“Those Smartphone apps do not communicate or are not compatible with transceivers. And further they’re not compatible with other apps,” says CAC executive director Gilles Valade.

Also of concern is battery life and range issues. Valade said signals used for Wifi, Bluetooth and GPS do not transmit effectively through snow objects, especially when water is involved.

“If it’s avalanche debris it’s compact snow,” Valade said, noting transceivers are tested for robustness and come with attachments that prevent the devices from falling off in an avalanche.

Another factor is the marketing of Smartphones as a cheap alternative to transceivers. The CAC is especially concerned about young skiers and snowboarders who decide to venture out of bounds for a run or two.

“That’s the clientele they’re targeting,” Valade said. “The ‘better than nothing’ tagline is quite alarming. It is nothing. It’s not a transceiver.”

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LUSH Valley comes to the aid of Washington Inn tenants

Submitted by BC Housing The reality of the COVID-19 pandemic descended on… Continue reading

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Habitat for Humanity re-opens Comox Valley store, build site

The store will also be taking donations by appointment in near future

Cumberland weighs its carbon offset options

Aim of the offsets is for local governments to make up for carbon footprint

SALUTE TO FRONTLINE WORKERS: Firefighters put special skill set to the test during pandemic

The Comox Valley Record has produced a special supplement for its May… Continue reading

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Comox Valley business map offers information on local eateries, grocery stores and more

Search and click for hours and services offered during the COVID-19 pandemic

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

Comox Valley Bouquets for Week of May 18-24

Thanks for the coffees; bouquets to City of Courtenay

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

Most Read