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

 

Just Posted

Merville resident looking for help to name original settler families

Janice Isenor is hoping to figure out which families settled where in Merville 100 years ago

Cultural sharing for Comox Valley School District song unveiling

After nearly a year in the making, a special gift was presented… Continue reading

Best of World Community Film Fest screens Tuesday

The votes are in from the recent World Community Film Festival and… Continue reading

Union Bay Improvement District board apologizes to trustee; deadline remains for other demands

UBID board complies with one of the demands of a letter threatening legal action

Valley’s Women’s Memorial March honours those missing and murdered

On Thursday morning shortly before noon, around 60 people gathered to honour… Continue reading

VIDEO: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

No Center of Gravity festival in Kelowna this summer: organizers

COG organizers said the hope is to return to the Okanagan in 2020

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Plecas won’t run in next election if B.C. legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Workshop with ‘accent reduction’ training cancelled at UBC

The workshop was cancelled the same day as an email was sent out to international students

Most Read