Originally Posted by Seven
Not to be a noodge... or maybe I didn't understand your post, Spindrift.
A beacon isn't within the realm of preventative if what you mean by preventative is preventing getting caught in an avalanche.
In the US the survival rate of beacon wearers caught in an avalanche is 30%. Those are crappy odds.
You hope to never need it.
My point was exactly that - real in the field use of a beacon implies something catastrophic has happened. Hence the ounce of prevention comment. Best to apply knowledge and good practices to minimize the odds of being in that situation.
It seems there are people who think just owning a beacon is a safety measure - never mind that they are not proficient in its use, know nothing of layering, route selection, etc. Heck, some folks who own beacons seem to think a beacon's place is in a backpack or even in their glove box -- or that a beacon with dead batteries is a magical good luck charm...
Having said that, the statistics make it pretty clear that not only does a well equipped, practiced group have better odds of avoiding trouble - it has better odds of dealing with a catastrophic event than a group that is not so equipped and practiced.
Seems to me that there is no excuse for anyone skiing off piste, even inbounds at many areas, not to take at least a basic avy class. (Here in the Seattle area, Gary Brill's described at http://www.geocities.com/garyabrill/avalanche.html
seems to be the standard.) Then load up on all the right gear as well...