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Snowmobilers, Stay Alert For Avalanches

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By Jay Michaels

Twin Falls, Idaho (KMVT-TV) This is the time of year when people "head for the hills" to play in the snow. Skiers, snow boarders, and snowmobilers alike love to hit the slopes when there's fresh powder on them. But it's important to keep an eye out for possible avalanches, as well.

Idaho has plenty of steep slopes in the back country, but that can spell prime conditions for possible avalanches. Most avalanches happen on slopes with 30 to 45 degree angles, So if you're going to play in the snow, you can take some precautions.

Range Deputy Steve Vaughan with the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office says, "Some of the things are to prepare, plan, and ride safely. You can prepare several ways. Do a trip plan, make sure somebody knows where you're going, when you'll return. And when to call the sheriff's office if you don't return."

The Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office and local winter sports equipment dealers urge you to learn the signs of avalanche conditions, and carry survival gear, including probes, shovels, and beacons, as well.

Jamey Wills, General Manager of Action Cycles and Sleds, says, "Know how to use them. Make sure that they are practiced with them so that if somebody does get involved in an avalanche, that they can get them out in a short amount of time. Because you really only have about a 15 minute window."

Vaughan says you should also know your ability to control your snowmobile, as well as what your snow machine is capable of, and then don't over drive your snowmobile. He says take a friend with you. Most of all don't let the excitement of snow mobiling overcome your good sense, because that could result in injuries or even death.

Vaughan says, "Check the weather before you leave. You can access that by the local weather, the news, the National Weather Service. Check avalanche conditions. You can access that through the National Forest Service website or the Avalanche Center."

You can find out more about current snow conditions at avalanche.org or by calling 622-8027. You can also find out when and where avalanche awareness training sessions will be held in your area by visiting parksandrecreation.idaho.gov .

Dec. 21, 2012.


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