I read that if you do get buried and a beacon search is needed to find you chances are already under 50% you will live.
There is a some misunderstanding comments here in this thread.
The concern out west is the frequency of in bounds avalanches this season even with ski patrol pounding the mountains with explosive Avalanche control. Dense snow pack ice crust that developed in November with surface hoar on top followed by more heavy snow on top of the surface hoar. Surface hoar is like ball bearings. Think of the heavy snow pack as plywood on top of small ball bearings. The problem is that this will exist for most of the 2008-2009 ski season.
In bounds Avalanches are occurring more frequently this season even with the Avalanche control. Normally in bounds Avalanches are extremely rare. The person that died in Jackson Hole Wyoming this year is only the second in bounds Avalanche death at Jackson Hole in 40 years. He was wearing a beacon, witnessed by ski patrol, found and dug out by ski patrol via beacons in under 10 minutes. Unfortunately this man died.
The issue here even though ski patrol does an awesome job protecting in bounds skiers by performing avalanche control, do in bounds skiers need to purchase an avalanche beacon for $300+. Do you need to wear your beacon when skiing in bounds? One women purchased 5 beacons for her entire family just to be on the safe side.
Ski patrollers at western ski areas that are prone to avalanche, wear Avalanche beacons so they can be found if the patroller is buried and so they can find guests if they are caught in an avalanche.
Reco tags are $25 that you put in your clothing. Some western resorts have maybe one Reco system at best to find someone buried but the response time is past 15 minutes for Reco. Your odds of living are better than 90 percent if dug up under 5 minutes. After 15 minutes your odds of living are less than 25 percent. This assumes your are not already dead from trauma. Beacons will not help the 25 percent of all Avalanche deaths that die because of Trauma. Beacons can only help the other 75 percent that are buried and still alive.