There are many valuable pieces of equipment that you can use in your remote communication plan, that raise the alarm when you require assistance. One of the most common and popular is the 406MHz distress beacon, also called a PLB or EPIRB.
Since February 2009, only 406MHz distress beacons are detected by satellite, however old analogue beacons are still capable of being picked up by overflying aircraft. Unfortunately without the satellite to pinpoint their position, searching for analogue beacons is time-consuming and costly.
All distress beacons have a finite recommended battery life, printed on the side of the beacon. When the beacon battery ‘expires’, the battery needs to be changed, or the beacon replaced. GME run a beacon exchange program, where you can swap your beacon for a refurbished one with a new battery installed for about half the cost of purchasing a new beacon.
Unfortunately many people simple dispose of their beacon in the bin.
Last weekend, three beacons were activated after being placed in rubbish. One was found in a household bin at Burpengary QLD, and the other two were found in waste disposal facilities at Geraldton WA and Nudgee QLD.
Recommended Disposal Method
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority advise the correct way to dispose of an expired or unwanted beacon is to take them to Battery World. Battery World will, for a small fee, safely disable the beacon and recycle the battery and beacon components. A list of Battery World store locations can be found here: http://www.batteryworld.com.au/store-list
If you are not able to take your beacon to a Battery World outlet, some beacons are able to be deactivated by the user. Instructions for the permanent disabling of beacons can be found on most manufacturer’s websites.
The most important thing is to disconnect the batteries before the beacons are disposed of.
More information on beacon disposal can be found here: http://beacons.amsa.gov.au/maintenance/disposal.asp
If you have sold your beacon
If your beacon has been sold – either on its own or along with your boat, you must tell AMSA that you have sold your beacon. This will allow the new owner to re-register the beacon in their name. This can be done by phoning AMSA on 1800 406 406, or by filling out the forms available here: http://beacons.amsa.gov.au/registration/index.asp#rego
More information can be found from the e-book Save Our Selves – A guide to getting help in remote areas available here: campingcommunication.com