Everything you want to know about RECCO®
Who isn’t familiar with RECCO®? More than 800 rescue services worldwide work with the system and many brands have provided their gear and apparel with RECCO® reflector. It’s a short introduction of a great addition to the avalanche beacon, shovel and probe when you’re riding in the backcountry.
RECCO® has been working on their product continuously since 1973 and they made some great progress over the last couple of years. RECCO® offers rescue services an extra tool in their search for people who got in the outdoors or who were hit by an avalanche.
How does the RECCO® System work?
It takes two to tango and that’s exactly what RECCO® is all about. On the one hand there is the famous reflector that you’ll find in or on your ski boots, helmets and apparel. And there is the RECCO® search device. Both need each other.
The specially developed reflector that consists of antennas that are adjusted so that they resonate at a correct frequency. The search device emits a highly focused beam of radio signals, precisely on the frequency at which the RECCO® reflector resonates.
The reflector then doubles these signals and sends it back, so that the person who mans the search device knows that he has found a RECCO® reflector and not just another metal plate of the same size.
Despite the confidence that rescue services have in the system, RECCO® has been criticized for a while. The public opinion was (and sometimes still is) that RECCO® isn’t a useful product. This was fed by a lot of people that simply didn’t know what they are talking about. For example, they would say that RECCO® would protect you from avalanches and that it could replace the avalanche beacon, shovel and probe. Sheer nonsense. Experienced freeriders know this only too well. Same goes for the people at RECCO®. A reflector is NOT a substitute for the avalanche beacon, shovel and probe.
So, what is RECCO® exactly?
RECCO® the ideal supplement?
With so many rescue services and more and more brands that put the reflector in their gear, dancing the tango has become possible almost everywhere. If you carry a RECCO® reflector reflector in your gear, you give the rescue services an extra frequency next to your avalanche beacon, where they can quickly locate you in an emergency. It’s simple: RECCO® offers you extra possibilities when the shit hits the fan.
Especially when you consider that there are more alpine hazards than just avalanches. RECCO® is an excellent tool to scan large surfaces in case when people are lost for example.
They keep improving their product at RECCO®. In order to provide further assistance to rescue services, the SAR detector was developed in cooperation with Air Zermatt. The ideal way to quickly and efficiently scan large surfaces with the help of a helicopter. This shortens the time from being lost to being found even more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the RECCO® system protect you from avalanches?
No, of course not. It is a big misunderstanding that avalanches just happen to you by mistake. In the vast majority of cases there is no question of bad luck. In 90-95% of the cases the avalanche is caused by the rider (or someone in the group) himself. The bad news is that we often cause them ourselves, the good news is that you can prevent yourself coming into an avalanche with the right knowledge.
Is the RECCO® system a replacement for avalanche, shovel and probe?
No. It complements this holy trinity of avalanche beacon, shovel and probe. Never go out alone and never without the right gear when you want to ride off-piste. If you go out alone there is no one who can help you If something happens. In addition, avalanche beacon, shovel and probe are the ideal tools for your friends to carry out a rescue operation. By alerting the rescue services directly via GSM, they can provide assistance as well. With additional avalanche beacons, rescue dogs and RECCO® search devices, they can quickly search large areas.
What is the range of the RECCO® system?
The range is 80 meters through the air, 20 meters through a snow cover. When searching for victims, rescue services work in strips of 20 meters (10 meters on the left and 10 meters on the right), making sure they don’t miss anything.
Do I need to replace batteries with a RECCO® reflector?
No, it is a passive reflector. It reflects a signal. Batteries are not necessary.
Can I use a RECCO® reflector instead of an avalanche beacon?
No, the RECCO® reflector is an addition to your avalanche beacon. Always go out with the holy trinity: avalanche beacon, shovel and probe.
Can rescue services simultaneously use avalanche beacons and RECCO® search devices during a rescue operation?
Yes, the systems are complementary to each other and certainly do not get in each other’s way.
Can the RECCO® search device be used from a helicopter?
Hell yes. It is an ideal device for rescue services to start a search from a helicopter. Especially with the new RECCO® SAR detector, a large area can be scanned in a short time.