Avalanche victims may find emergency beacons less effective if they are using diabetes devices such as a blood testing meter or insulin pump, a study finds.
This research was conducted by North Shore Hospital (NSH), New Zealand to assess how blood sugar monitors and insulin pumps affected two common avalanche transceivers.
These beacons normally transmit and receive signals to locate someone trapped under snow more than 30 metres away.
The researchers examined whether electronic devices such as smartphones and diabetes devices could limit this distance in which signals could be detected.
When the Animas Vibe – an insulin pump – was placed within 30 centimetres of a transmitting beaco, the search range was reduced to five metres.
This was reduced to 10 metres when the Medtronic Guardian Real-Time CGM (RTCGM) system was held within 30cm of the beacon. However, the Dexcom G4 RTCGM did not appear to interfere with transceiver signals.
The diabetes devices were not affected by the beacons, but lead author Dr. Steven Miller, a researcher at NSH, warned: “I suggest therefore that any electronic device – including an insulin pump or a continuous glucose monitor, but also a MP3, cell phone, radio, etc – is kept as far away as possible from the avalanche beacon.”
The results of this study were published in Wilderness and Environmental Medicine.

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