With extra snow in the mountains, safety is key

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by JAKE WHITTENBERG / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on February 20, 2014 at 7:44 AM

The Northwest Avalanche Center is sending a message of safety this week with so much extra snow in the mountains.

Scott Shell says while avalanches are a big danger, Snow Immersion Suffocation can be especially deadly.

A lot of times when you try to move around and struggle, you can actually decrease the size of your air pocket,” says Shell.

It’s estimated Snow Immersion Suffocation claims four lives every year in the U.S.

If you are caught in a tree well, Shell says the best thing to do is stay calm. But, he says it’s critical you always stay close to a partner when you leave the ungroomed trails.

“Communication is key,” says Shell. “A lot of times you can get 500 feet down the mountain before you realize your partner is not with you. It takes an awful long time to hike up 500 feet to find them.”

Shell also says an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel are a must.

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