An emergency position indicating radio beacon or EPIRB is a compact, buoyant, self-contained radio transmitter designed for marine use. When it is activated it emits a continuous distinctive radio distress signal for at least 48 hours. This signal is detected by satellite and relayed to a rescue coordination centre, which will start a search and rescue operation by the local authorities.
An EPIRB should only be activated in situations where human life is in grave and imminent danger, and only after all other means of indicating distress, such as flares and radio, have been attempted.
If you accidentally activate your EPIRB, switch it off immediately and notify the rescue coordination centre, Australia as soon as possible on 1800 641 792 to make sure they do not start a search and rescue operation.
The 24 hour maritime emergency contact phone number for Australian search and rescue is 1800 641 792.
The EPIRB will carry printed instructions on it on how to activate it. You should be familiar with those instructions.
To activate the EPIRB:
Don't hold on to the EPIRB because is designed to work best when floating in the water.
Vessels are required to carry an emergency beacon if they are:
For an EPIRB to be an approved distress beacon for use in South Australian waters, it must:
Personal locator beacons (PLBs) which meet AS/NZS 4280.2 are not designed for marine use and do not meet the legal requirements for distress beacons, so they are not approved EPIRBs. But personal locator beacons can be used as an additional safety measure and 406 MHz PLBs may also be registered with AMSA.
Registration is free and you can register your beacon online.
You can also get forms to post, fax or email your registration to Australian Maritime Safety Authority. For more information, call 1800 406 406 during office hours.
A registered 406 MHz beacon will allow the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's rescue coordination centre to retrieve valuable information that will assist with your rescue from the registration database.
You can also register your trip itineraries, so when a beacon is activated the rescue coordination centre will know your current movements and be better placed to organise a rescue.
Unwanted beacons should be disposed of safely. Information on how unwanted distress beacons should be disposed of is provided on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website.
Distress beacons - Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Phone: 1800 406 406 during business hours