Safe Boating Week is this Week: Emergency Radio Beacons

The Cospas-Sarsat system is an international satellite-based search and rescue system used to locate emergency radio beacons transmitting on a frequency of 406 MHz. Since 1982, the Cospas-Sarsat system has been instrumental in the rescue of over 30,000 individuals worldwide and more than 6,700 individuals in the United States. Within the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the lead representative to the Cospas-Sarsat organization.

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons or EPIRBs are a type of emergency radio beacon developed for use in marine environments. Other types of emergency radio beacons such as Personal Locator Beacons or PLBs are available for different applications; however their effectiveness can be compromised when used in the marine environment.

EPIRB diagram 

EPIRB

 406 MHz EPIRBs are divided into two categories. Category I EPIRBs are activated automatically or may be activated manually. Category II EPIRBs can only be activated manually. Either of these two types of EPIRBs may be equipped with GPS which will help rescue forces locate you more quickly. As proven by experience, an EPIRB often serves as the last line of defense when disaster strikes. All types of EPIRBs are becoming increasingly affordable and all mariners should investigate procuring one, especially those operating in harsh environments or offshore areas.

Once your purchase is made, make certain that you register your EPIRB which is mandatory. The information you provide on your registration may help rescue forces find you faster in an emergency. This information also allows Rescue Coordination Center personnel to determine if a distress alert is real or false and prevent the needless dispatch of rescue forces to locate a false alert. You may register online at www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov. For any registration questions, please call 888-212-7283.

For more information on Cospas-Sarsat or EPIRBs visit: www.sarsat.noaa.gov

 



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