ABS Backpack: Avalanche Airbag

ABS Backpack: Avalanche Airbag

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ABS Backpack: Avalanche Airbag

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The ABS Airbag System is a new way of thinking about avalanche safety. Backpacks fitted with the ABS system deploy two airbags that help keep you on top of avalanche debris as you move down the hill. ABS bags have been in use in Europe for a few years but are just now making they way to the United States. Of the 180 reported deployments of the system in a life threatening situation, 177 of the victims survived including a good friend of mine. ABS backpacks run about $1,000. An avalanche consists of different particles of snow. Those particles move underneath each body and push it to the surface by rotating until the avalanche slows down. This fact and the change of direction of the avalanche are the reason why approximately half of all avalanche victims end up on top of the avalanche. A completely different scenario exists for those who do not end up on the surface of the avalanche. Once the avalanche slows down, rotation and lifting abilities also slow down. The victim cannot reach the surface anymore due to the higher density and lesser volume. In most cases this burial is deadly. Once activated, the ABS equalizes the volume and density of the victim relative to the surrounding snow by working on the principle of “inverse particles” . …and you are ontop within 2 seconds. As with a life vest in the water, the victims swims on the surface of the avalanche. The added volume of 150 liters has been calculated to be needed for cold, dry and loose snow. If the snow is denser, wetter and heavier less volume is needed. The statistics show that all victims carried down by a moving avalanche stayed on top and survived the incident (see the statistics) . The ABS has proven its worth in many tests already. An increasing number of avalanche victims owe their lives to the use of the AB.

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