A distracting signal is a false positive signal that interferes with a search effort. All technologies are affected by distracting signals. For avalanche rescue dogs a distracting signal can be caused by spilled food, urine, or items dropped by rescuers. Avalanche transceivers are susceptible to signals from mobile phones, digital recording cameras, radios, and even headlamps. Likewise, these same devices may also affect RECCO detectors, even when turned off. Certainly, other nearby rescuers equipped with reflectors can be another source of distracting signals. The problem is that a distracting signal is a signal, but it’s not the right signal the rescuer is searching for.
When ready to use the detector be sure to move 10-20 m away from other rescuers and equipment. This will put you in an area free of other signals as long as you don’t aim the detector at other rescuers. If you detect a signal with the detector aimed toward a clear horizon – free of other rescuers – there is likely something on your person causing the signal. Turn down the power 2 steps and give yourself a thorough self-scan to locate the offending device or object. Make sure other rescuers or gear are not behind you. Then move it (transceivers should go on your back), shield it with a RECCO Shield, or remove it and set it off to the side in a designated equipment area. Increase the power back to full and you should be ready to search.
Don’t try to search if you are receiving a distracting signal. When you’re ready to search you should hear only the static noise of the detector at full power.
Searches are done with confidence when training matches real-world conditions. This means training with the equipment you normally carry, and it is through practice where you learn how to recognize and manage distracting signals. By taking a couple of minutes to prepare properly you are setting conditions for an efficient search. During a real search the time spent in preparation will save you time and frustration during the search, which might even make a difference for the buried person, too.