Government of British Columbia

Government of British Columbia

December 01, 2011 13:18 ET

Government of British Columbia: BC Coroners Service Urges Training, Equipment to Prevent Avalanche Deaths

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Dec. 1, 2011) -

INFORMATION BULLETIN

2011PSSG0155-001557
Dec. 1, 2011

Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
BC Coroners Service

BC Coroners Service urges training, equipment to prevent avalanche deaths

VICTORIA - The season for winter recreation in the backcountry is upon us, and the BC Coroners Service is encouraging all those going out to take special care to prevent deaths caused by avalanches.

During the 2010-11 winter season, a total of nine people died when they were caught up in backcountry avalanches - and virtually all of those deaths were preventable.

The coroners' investigations have shown that two-thirds of the deaths occurred among persons who were snowmobiling at the time. The others were back-country skiing. Eight of the nine deaths were of males. The average age of those who died was 44 years. None were children or teenagers. Only two of the nine resided in B.C. The others were visiting from the prairie provinces.

The BC Coroners Service, along with the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) and Emergency Management BC, has found that avalanche awareness is improving, and more backcountry users are carrying essential avalanche safety equipment - transceivers, shovels and probes. As well, recommended equipment such as avalanche balloon packs are becoming increasingly popular.

However, many still have not taken sufficient training to use that equipment to its greatest effectiveness. A person buried in an avalanche can suffocate in minutes - long before expert help can arrive - so the ability to perform quick and effective rescues is vital.

Information about training courses is provided through the CAC. New this year is the one-day Companion Rescue course, which focuses on the skills needed to respond to an avalanche incident. For more information, see the CAC website at www.avalanche.ca where you will find a basic online course, as well as information on introductory and advanced avalanche skills training courses. This training is essential for anyone planning to venture into the backcountry in winter.

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect

Contact Information

  • Barb McLintock
    Coroner, Strategic Programs
    BC Coroners Service
    250 356-9253 or 250 213-5020