Starting February 1, 2009 that is exactly what will happen for boaters who have the older model EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) that transmit a distress alert on 121.5 MHz or 243 MHz. The activation of an EPIRB is like making a 911 call to search and rescue authorities. After February 1, 2009 the older model EPIRBs will no longer be monitored by satellite, and are likely to go completely undetected in an emergency. Only distress alerts from 406 MHz beacons will continue to be detected and processed by search and rescue satellites worldwide. Although February 1, 2009 is still a long time from now, the traditional start of the 2008 boating season is just a couple of weeks away and while preparing for the season the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary recommends that the new EPIRBs be part of the season start-up shopping list.
Although recreational boaters are not required to carry an
EPIRB, they are strongly recommended for ALL boaters, including kayaks
and other paddle craft, along with a VHF-FM marine band radio. The 406
MHz signal sent by the newer EPIRBs when a mariner encounters distress
are picked up by the COSPAS/SARSAT satellite constellation, which
determines the EPIRBs position through triangulation. EPIRBs with
embedded GPS are even more helpful in quickly finding a distressed
boater. With GPS coordinates, the position of distress is pinpointed
almost immediately. Without GPS, it may take two or three satellite
passes to come up with a good, triangulated position. According to
Captain Chip Strangfeld, Commander of Coast Guard Sector San Diego,
"the time saved by EPIRBs could mean the difference between life and
As long as the new 406 MHz beacon has been registered
(which is required by law), search and rescue authorities can quickly
confirm that the distress is real, who they are looking for, and a
description of the vessel or aircraft. This means an effective search
can be initiated even before a final distress location has been
determined for non-GPS EPIRBs. It also means that a false activation
may be resolved with a phone call to the beacon owner, saving resources
for actual distresses.
Registration is free and can be done on the internet at: http://www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov/
or it can be mailed/faxed to NOAA by calling 1-888-212-SAVE. Beacon
registrations must be updated at least every two years or when
information such as emergency contact phone numbers and other vital
information changes. This registration information is only available to
authorized search and rescue personnel. It saves lives.
potentially life-saving information along with how to take a boating
safety course or get a free vessel safety check from the Coast Guard
Auxiliary visit http://www.uscgboating.org/.
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed civilian component of
the United States Coast Guard. Created by an Act of Congress in 1939,
the Auxiliary directly supports the Coast Guard in all missions, except military
and direct law enforcement actions. The Coast Guard Auxiliary is an
integral part of the United States Coast Guard. For more information
visit http://www.cgaux.org/ if you are ready to join visit http://join.cgaux.org.
For More Information Contact:
Anthony Turner, Chief
External Communications Division
National Department of Public Affairs
What if you Call 911 and No One Ever Answers?Wednesday, 07 May 2008
Starting February 1, 2009 that is exactly what will happen for boaters who have the older model EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) that transmit a distress alert on 121.5 MHz or 243 MHz.
David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.