How to stay safe during avalanche season

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - Two avalanches have already been reported in the back country of Idaho this week.

One on the ski slopes of Sun Valley
, and another by snowmobile riders near McCall.

Both types of recreationalists face the avalanche threats, but snowmobilers are especially vulnerable.

"Snowmobilers tend to move through the snow pack much faster than skiers. They change their elevation. They change their aspect. They change their terrain faster than skiers do. So they're not in touch with the snow like the ski community," says Rich Gummersall, OHV education coordinator for Idaho Parks and Recreation.

Snowmobilers can counteract this by taking a little extra time when they enter a new slope to make sure that the snow has the strength to support them. In addition, having the right kind of gear can save your life.

Make sure you have an avalanche beacon so your friends can find you if you get buried in an avalanche, It's also vital to have a probe that can reach deep into the snow to locate the victim, and a snow shovel so you can dig them out.

"If we can get to a victim within 15 minutes we stand about an 85 percent chance of rescuing them alive," says Gummersall.

Idaho Parks and Recreation offer numerous free snowmobile safety courses across the state throughout the winter. If you would like to attend one, you can find more information by clicking here .