5 Must Do's For PLB EPIRB Ownership

Author: Peter Hackett   Date Posted:22 August 2016 

PLBs Do Save LivesRecent mountain rescues and ocean deaths in both Australia and New Zealand have prompted us to again remind you about owning either an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) or PLB (Personal Locator Beacon).

If you have an EPIRB or PLB or BOTH for when you are either tramping or own a boat / kayak and plan to go to sea, there are a few highly recommended MUST Do's. If you don't own one - get one now before you go!

They have never been more affordable.


1. Have it registered with the respective government department. The service is free and they play a vital role in locating your position and getting a rescue team to you in the shortest practical time possible. If the reason you haven't registered is that you think Big Brother is watching, then you are misunderstanding the department's role and resources.

2. Have you regularly tested your beacon as per the manufacturer's manual? The battery life is calculated to handle both the design specification minimum activation time of 24 hours, plus regular battery tests.

3. When travelling with a group, always show everyone where the beacon is stored and how to activate it. Preferably, never store it out of sight but if you do, tell everyone where it is. On a boat, label the compartment or grab bag it is in.

4. Never carry a PLB in your backpack, on the trail bike or horse saddle bag. Always keep it on your person because you don't want to be separated. Imagine if you're stuck on a ledge and your backpack is only a metre away but out of reach ..... bugger!

5. If your circumstances appear, even remotely, of becoming grave or imminently dangerous, ACTIVATE the beacon. Do this even before broadcasting a Mayday call if you have a VHF radio or mobile phone. Search and Rescue organisations need as much good weather as possible to get helicopters and ground crew to you. Flash flooding or a boat capsizing can happen within minutes. Always accept that you could have less than 2 minutes before a boat sinks or burns to the water level. Too late then for a Mayday call. Get the beacon activated first.

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