The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has released figures for 406 distress beacon activations in Australia in 2016, and frankly, the figures are alarming.
There were 1323 beacon activations over the twelve month period, and a massive 1074 were classified as “inadvertent” by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. This means that resources were spent tracking down beacon owners and confirming their safety, on average, three times a day, every day of the year.
If a beacon is registered, this may be as simple as a phone call to the owner, or their emergency contact.
But if the beacon is unregistered, or the registration details are out of date, valuable resources are spent tracking the signal, locating the source and turning it off. Beacons have been found in boats, backs of cars, storage units, and regularly in rubbish tips. No one enjoys sifting through tonnes of rubbish looking for an active distress beacon that has been discarded.
So how do we help:
- Register your beacon. This is simple to do, and is free. Click here: http://beacons.amsa.gov.au/registration/index.asp#rego
- If you sell your boat with a beacon, update your beacon registration. This is separate to changing the boat’s registration.
- Before you dispose of your out of date beacon – make sure you disconnect the batteries. Make sure you also update the beacon registration status. Click here: https://campingcommunication.com/2013/05/01/how-to-dispose-of-your-old-distress-beacon-epirb-or-plb/
Australia has the highest rates of beacon ownership in the world, and around two-thirds of beacons are registered. This simple process really helps SAR authorities act quickly with a tailored response to your situation. It also allows authorities to quickly determine which alerts are inadvertent, and which require rescue.