Utah Avalanche Center Partners With Backcountry.com to Develop First Avalanche Education Program for Young Adults in Utah
Following a Winter That Saw Three Youth Avalanche Fatalities in Utah, 'Know
Before You Go' to Deliver Fundamental Backcountry Knowledge to Area Schools
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 massive avalanche. "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. For full release, visit http://www.backcountry.com/store/press_releases.html?id=wN59rddV
SOURCE Utah Avalanche Center
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