EPIRBs and Personal Locator Beacons
Find out when to carry and how to use and dispose of a distress beacon.
Distress beacons, such as Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) and Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs), are devices that can be activated to alert rescuers that you are in a life threatening situation and need to be rescued.
Lives are saved each year because responsible skippers carry distress beacons.
Your EPIRB or PLB must be registered with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
Types of distress beacons
An EPIRB designed for marine use will:
- float and keep the antennae above the water
- has a lanyard
- can operate continuously for 48 hours.
An EPIRB should be positioned in the cockpit or near the helm where it can be reached quickly in an emergency.
Your EPIRB must meet Australian Standards AS/NZS 4280.1 and have an in date battery.
We recommend you purchase a Global Positioning System (GPS) enabled EPIRB.
When activated, a GPS-enabled EPIRB will direct emergency services to within 120 metres of your location compared to 5 kilometres with a non-GPS device.
A PLB is a compact portable beacon and is designed to be worn or carried by an individual.
Some PLBs do not float and may not be designed for use in water.
A PLB usually has a shorter battery life than an EPIRB and will only operate for approximately 24hrs.
Your PLB must meet Australian Standard 4280.2 and have an in date battery.
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