HEBER CITY, Utah, Sept. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The Forest Service Utah
Avalanche Center today announced that it will partner with Backcountry.com,
the Web's fastest growing destination for high-end specialty outdoor gear, to
develop a first-of-its-kind avalanche safety campaign specifically developed
for and targeted to school-age children in Utah. Called "Know Before You Go,"
the one hour education program will be taught in participating junior high and
high schools in Utah as an annual assembly, to any gathering of young outdoor
enthusiasts such as Boy Scout troops and to outdoor recreation programs at
universities. As of early September, more than 30 area schools had expressed
interest in the program.
The program has three parts: a 15-minute, narrated video showing
avalanches, people triggering avalanches and the destructive power of
avalanches; a local avalanche professional telling stories about close calls
or accidents they have experienced; and a 15 -minute PowerPoint presentation
about the basics of how to recognize avalanche terrain, how to recognize
obvious signs of instability, safe travel practices, an overview of avalanche
rescue equipment and self-rescue procedures, and where to obtain information
about current avalanche conditions.
"A critical need exists for basic avalanche education for junior high
through college age students in Utah," said Craig Gordon, an avalanche
forecaster at the Utah Avalanche Center. "Just as students in Hawaii learn
about the dangers of rip tides and shore breaks at an early age, students in
Utah need to learn about avalanches. The rising numbers of young avalanche
victims have demonstrated an obvious need for basic avalanche education."
One and a half million Utah residents live immediately adjacent to some of
the most dangerous and easily accessible avalanche terrain in the United
States. Over the past eight years, nine young snowboarders have died in
avalanches in Utah.
The most notorious event occurred on the day after Christmas in 2003.
Fourteen people were recreating near Aspen Grove in the run-out zone of one of
the largest avalanche paths in Utah during one of the most intense snowstorms
Utah had experienced in several years. Three young snowboarders died in a
"After last season's disaster in Aspen Grove, it became clear that the
backcountry was attracting a younger, less-savvy group of users," said Dustin
Robertson, Backcountry.com's marketing director. "It was also clear that a
basic avalanche education could have prevented these deaths. It is our hope
not only that this will save lives of children in Utah, but that the program
can be modeled in other North American mountain communities as well."
About The Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center:
The Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center has operated since 1980 and
provides daily backcountry avalanche and mountain weather information to the
public who recreate in Utah's backcountry. The Utah Avalanche Center is
recognized as one of the top regional avalanche centers in North America. The
Utah Avalanche Center staff has appeared on over a dozen national and
international documentaries about avalanches and is regularly featured on most
of the national news networks. In addition to forecasting duties, the UAC
staff teaches dozens of avalanche courses throughout northern Utah each season
and is in high demand as avalanche educators. The center is co-located at the
National Weather Service Forecast Office near the Salt Lake City Airport.
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SOURCE Utah Avalanche Center