Cell phones, iPods can interfere with beacon signals in Vail Valley | VailDaily.com

Cell phones, iPods can interfere with beacon signals in Vail Valley

Bob Berwyn
Summit County correspondent
Summit County, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” Avalanche experts say that electronic devices like cell phones, iPods and even radios and headlamps can hamper efforts to locate a buried avalanche-beacon signal by decreasing the range of the devices.

“There have been reports of interference. … You’ll hear a bit of fuzz in the signal,” said Spencer Logan, a forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The general recommendation seems to be to turn the cell phone off.

“Don’t be plugged in in the backcountry,” Logan said.

If it’s not practical to turn off electronic devices, they should be kept at least six inches away from the beacon, according to http://www.beaconreview.com.

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There aren’t any definitive studies on interference, but the issue has been studied informally, and several beacon manufacturers provide guidelines on the appropriate distance. Ortovox suggests at least six inches, while Barryvox recommends 20 inches.

For transceivers that use a magnetic compass to aid with searches such as the Ortovox S1 and Barryvox Pulse, it’s especially important to keep magnetic items away during a search. The relevant website literature warns to be especially wary of magnetic jacket buttons.

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