SEATTLE – Saturday, April 6, is 406 Day, a national campaign run by NOAA to spread awareness of the importance of emergency position indicating radio beacons, or EPIRBs, and personal locator beacons, or PLBs, in boating safety and emergency locater transmitter, or ELT’s in aviation safety.
In 2018, the 13th Coast Guard District responded to over 250 distress signals from emergency beacons aboard aircraft and vessels.
An EPIRB works by transmitting a signal that is picked up by a satellite and then relayed to a rescue coordination center.
Federal law requires all EPIRBs, PLB’s and ELT’s be registered in the NOAA SARSAT Beacon Registration Database, which is free to all beacon owners and easy to do.
When beacon owner information changes, it should be updated online at www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov or by contacting the NOAA SARSAT Beacon Registration Database at 1-888-212-SAVE (7283).
Owners are required to validate their beacon information every two years to ensure their contact information is up-to-date. Current beacon owner information allows search and rescue responders to work more efficiently and can decrease response time during distress situations.
If your EPIRB is accidentally activated, contact the U.S. Coast Guard at 1-855-406-USCG (8724) and provide them with the beacon’s ID to cancel the false alert.
Search and rescue personnel begin responding immediately to every activation of a distress beacon. Cancellation of false alerts helps protect SAR personnel who would be utilized during an actual emergency, and ensures valuable resources are available to respond to actual distress cases.
“The 13th Coast Guard District covers roughly 700,000 square miles and receives over 464 emergency beacon alerts a year,” said Scott Giard, the SAR specialist at the 13th Coast Guard District. “Approximately 97% of these alerts are false alerts, including accidental activations and bracket failures. Our sole focus is your safety on the water. Keeping your beacon registration information accurate helps us to better respond to your situation, and in turn prevents us from unduly hazarding our first responders and wasting resources at taxpayer expense. Be safe and register your EPIRBs, PLBs and ELTs; and keep the registration information current. Your efforts are certainly appreciated by our rescue crews!”