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Daily Archives: 7. September 2012 − News & Stories

Polar bear alarm system: user reports

Polar bear alarm systems for camps are a nuisance: essential for safety unless you have a reliable polar dog or enough manpower to handle a nightwatch, but currently hard to obtain locally in Longyearbyen. In October 2011, this page reported about a British system made and distributed by Arctic Limited. First user reports are now available.

Next to the fact that the system from Arctic Ltd. is, in contrast to other ones, easily available, it has several advantages in comparison to other systems which have commonly been used in Spitsbergen until recently. With older systems, the one-way components (the bangers) were the heavy and expensive parts. With the system from Arctic Ltd., the heavy and (relatively) expensive parts are the trigger mechanisms, which last forever. The bangers are blank cartridges: shot cartridges deprived of the shot, so they are cheap and lightweight and can be carried in numbers. This is useful, as it is hard to avoid occasional unintended triggering (wind, inobservance, reindeer, …).

User reports agree that the bang should be louder. According to Arctic Ltd., special bangers are available that meet this demand. Another question is that of the ideal string, which should be as thin as possible to be invisible for polar bears and to avoid unintended triggering. It has, however, to be very strong and it should not be elastic (then a bear might feel it before the system triggers).

Strong posts are essential for reliable functioning. For the author, aluminium pipes have served the purpose well. Reliable anchoring to the outside of the camp with thin cords and tent pegs or heavy stones is also critical, otherwise pulling the string may bend the posts rather than trigger the bangers.

Two sets of triggers and strings, one higher and one lower on the same set of posts around the camp, will also increase safety noticeably.

The importance of properly setting up a good system must not be understimated, as is shown by the deadly attach of a polar bear on a British camp in Spitsbergen in August 2011 (see reports on these pages).

Polar bear alarm system from Arctic Ltd., attached to an aluminium pipe with cable connectors and strong tape.


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