SLEDsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 07 - Emergency Prep & Outdoor Survival


Never ride alone in avalanche territory and try to keep your group numbers low. The rule of thumb is to ride with 3-4 people or less because communication becomes more difficult with larger groups. It also becomes more difficult to ensure everyone is following safety procedures. Then, there’s the math to consider: More sleds = weight and movement on the mountainside = greater risk of avalanche.

Before heading out, make sure each member of your group is wearing an avalanche beacon and has an avalanche probe (and small shovel) on their sled. You should also make sure the beacons work in both ‘transmit’ and ‘receive’ modes. These tools can be the difference between life and death for your group in an avalanche emergency.

This is very important - never ride in areas that are located higher up the slope than the area where your group is riding. If you trigger an avalanche, your group will be directly in the path of the snow slide. Instead, when you approach steep slopes, one person at a time should travel across. The other group members should park their machines in a safe spot away from the potentially dangerous area. It’s all about taking turns, and crossing the slope one-at-a-time.


  • If you, or a buddy, get buried in an avalanche, you’ll only have about 15 minutes to be rescued before you will die from asphyxia (suffocation).
  • The 15-minute window is not enough time to call rescue authorities for help… YOU are the help.
  • In instances where the riding partner left to go find help, the buried victim died about 78% of the time.
  • 64% of riders whose buddies try to get them out, survive the avalanche.
  • Most snowmobilers who head into avalanche territory have no training and no avalanche equipment with them. In these situations, a body recovery is much more likely than a rescue.
  • Be smart out there. Do your research, learn the basic safety and rescue procedures, get the gear and if you can, take an avalanche safety course.
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