Airbag backpack saves skier’s life in deadly avalanche

airbag backpack saves skiers life in deadly avalancheMost of the time, skiing is a fun, leisurely pursuit enjoyed my millions of people around the world. Occasionally things can take a turn for the worst, like last weekend when an avalanche took the lives of three highly experienced skiers in the Cascade Mountains in Washington.

Of the four skiers caught in the avalanche, only one survived. Speaking after the incident, Elyse Saugstad put her incredibly lucky escape down to her airbag backpack which she managed to trigger just in time.

“Ultimately I think you don’t have much time to react,” she said in an interview with ABC News. “The first thing that came to my mind was to use my airbag device.”

As she and her fellow skiers were swept 3,000 feet down the mountain, her inflated airbag helped to keep her on top of the snow. The airbag is also designed to create space around the skiers face and body so that should they become buried, they’ll still be able to breathe while they wait to be rescued.

The device has been available in Europe for some time, though has only recently come to North America.

Speaking of her experience, Saugstad said it was like being tossed and turned in a washing machine. “You don’t know which way is up, but the [airbag] system keeps you up above so you have a very good chance of survival,” she said.

airbag backpack saves skiers life in deadly avalancheThe airbag backpack, which costs around $1000, is activated by pulling on a handle, causing it to inflate with nitrogen. It’s been designed so that it doesn’t obstruct the view of its wearer or hinder their movement.

The latest design actually comprises two, not one, 85-liter airbags, which inflate on each side of the user’s body, helping to keep them as flat as possible on top, or close to the top, of the avalanche.

The maker of the airbag, a German company called ABS, has been researching ways to survive avalanches for more than 30 years.

[Source: BBC, ABS] [Top image: Prochasson Frederic / Shutterstock]

Photography

MIT science photographer isn’t an artist, but her work could fill galleries

Felice Frankel is an award-winning photographer, but she doesn't consider herself an artist. As a science photographer, she has been helping researchers better communicate their ideas for nearly three decades with eye-catching imagery.
Digital Trends Live

Pro4Ma CEO Liz Dunn explains the retail trends of Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Black Friday is a day of sales, but also of chaos. Pro4MA CEO Liz Dunn appeared on Digital Trends Live to discuss the shifts she has seen in Black Friday weekend, and what they mean for consumers.
Cars

This external airbag turns your entire car into a crumple zone to save lives

German components manufacturer ZF will test an external side airbag in 2019. It's essentially the same technology as the airbag mounted inside every new car but it deploys over the side of the vehicle to reduce the severity of injuries.
Emerging Tech

Early-detection system for wildfires could save many states from big burns

When it comes to dealing with the growing problem of raging wildfires, a new wireless smart sensor system could help spot burgeoning blazes before they rage out of control. Here's how it works.
Outdoors

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Black Diamond and Petzl to Coast here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk to unveil tunnel elevators and autonomous pods on December 18

We'll soon learn if Elon Musk's high-speed tunnel plan is a serious effort at ending traffic jams or little more than a fancy theme park ride. A big unveiling event is coming on December 18, a week later than originally planned.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!