Snowmobiles and avalanche safety focus of weekend class

An Alberta-based safety instructor is warning snowmobilers to study avalanches before hitting the tracks at a regularly scheduled class in Red Deer this weekend, as five Alberta victims of a B.C. avalanche are identified.

‘It's super tragic, super sad,’ says safety instructor Lori Zacaruk of Friday's fatal avalanche

Lori Zacaruk runs an avalanche training company specifically for snowmobilers. (Submitted by Lori Zacaruk)

An Alberta-based safety instructor is warning snowmobilers to study avalanches before hitting the tracks at a regularly scheduled class in Red Deer this weekend, as five Alberta victims of a B.C. avalanche are identified.

"It's super tragic, super sad," says Lori Zacaruk of Friday's fatal avalanche that killed five snowmobilers near McBride, B.C.

Safety instructor Lori Zacaruk says it's possible to manage risks associated with snowmobiling in avalanche terrain. (Submitted by Lori Zacaruk)

Zacaruk runs an avalanche training company specifically for snowmobilers.

She learned about the tragedy while preparing to give an avalanche training course in Red Deer.

Zacaruk says her students are sitting up a little straighter in class today, after learning of the news.

Instructor Lori Zacaruk says her students are sitting up a little straighter in class today, after learning of the five Alberta snowmobilers killed in a B.C. avalanche Friday. (Submitted by Lori Zacaruk)

"Many people think, 'Well I grew up in the mountains, I know this stuff.' You just don't. Until you take a course, it's just not stuff you would ever think about," Zacaruk said.

Tips for snowmobilers, from ZacsTracs & Avalanche Canada:

  • Check forecasts online before heading out
  • Learn how to identify snow conditions and read terrain
  • Only travel in groups
  • Carry the most up-to-date beacons, trackers and equipment and make sure everyone knows how to use them
  • Learn how to respond to emergencies and practice mock rescues
  • Keep skills fresh by re-taking courses

"It's not a gamble out there," Zacaruk said.

"There's some predictability (to managing risks)."

The Calgary Snowmobile Club offers its members rebates on avalanche training courses every two years.

"That's what we preach," said Dan Clifford, one of the club's executives.

"You have to be educated and you have to have the gear and you have to have the knowledge and the know-how how to use the gear in case it ever happens."

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