National Geographic : 2013 Apr
Art: Simon moSer. grAphic (top): ÁlvAro vAliÑo Source: geoffrey goodfellow, illinoiS college of optometry NEXT A human eye produces a teaspoon of tears every 33 hours. Avalanche Aid when the tumbling stops in an avalanche, the place where a person comes to rest is critical. most deaths occur due to suffocation under snow—trauma is the other main cause—so landing near the surface boosts survival chances. Some skiers, snowmobilers, and other adventurers are adding a self-inflating device to standard avalanche safety tools like shovels. it resembles an airline flotation vest, but its purpose is to increase the amount of space a person occupies so that the wearer is shifted toward the top of cascading snow. “our latest research shows that these air bags can save lives,” says avalanche scientist pascal haegeli. “But they are not a magic bullet that can get you out of trouble all the time.” — Luna Shyr 1. if caught in an avalanche, an air bag wearer pulls a rip cord. A cartridge of compressed air or gas inflates the device, increasing the person’s overall volume. 2. the air bag helps the person stay higher in moving snow because avalanches behave like flowing sand or sediment. Bigger particles tend to move toward the top. 3. if a person is buried, a brightly colored air bag might still be visible, making the person easier to find. Survival rates drop quickly after 15 minutes or so.