Hazen Fire and Rescue personnel set off an airbag during a vehicle extrication demonstration with the Mercer County Ambulance Oct. 17 in Hazen, N.D.
The airbag's inflation system reacts sodium azide with potassium nitrate to produce nitrogen gas. Hot blasts of the nitrogen inflate the airbag at up to 200 miles per hour. The powdery substance released from the airbag is regular cornstarch or talcum powder to keep the bags pliable and lubricated while they're in storage.
Emergency responders cut a vehicle's battery cables at the scene of a crash to prevent the airbag from deploying during the extrication process.