As I was shoveling snow the other day, I was dreaming of snowboarding. Fresh powder, long turns, steep runs and about 2-3 feet of fresh stuff on a good base.Epic conditions! That also is a set up for avalanche.
A very good article on Avalanche Safety can be found over at a really cool site: MountainZone.com. The article was written by Paul Baugher, who is the director of the Northwest Avalanche Institute.
Perhaps the most important thing to take away from his article is that concern for an avalanche must be there, in order to prepare properly.
MountainGear.com has a kit for backcountry travel, with a beacon, folding shovel and probe. This can be purchased for less than a new board and should not be considered “optional equipment” for off trail adventures.
Black Diamond also produces a product called the AvaLung. An excellent review of the product can be found at that link. Basically, this is a vest that is worn to provide an air source if trapped under a slide.