Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Utah Avalanche Center partners with Backcountry.com to develop unique 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. 29, 2004) – 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.

Go here to read the full release.

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