Using distress beacons

Once an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) has been activated, leave it on until instructed by rescue authorities to switch it off.

Your EPIRB is the best reference point for rescuers whose aircraft, vessels and vehicles may not be able to remain in the same location as you throughout the emergency.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) advises:

  • A distress beacon should be activated in situations of grave and imminent danger.
  • Attach the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) using the lanyard to the person, vessel, or life raft (nothing that will sink). The EPIRB is designed to float vertically in the water.
  • If you are sitting in a life raft and prefer to have the EPIRB inside the life raft, ensure the aerial is always vertical for the best chance of detection.
  • Ensure your body is not covering the beacon.

Activating your beacon transmits a signal that can be detected by satellite. How long it takes for emergency personnel to rescue you and the cost of the rescue operation varies on your situation. Learn more about how distress beacons work on the AMSA website.

Register your beacon with AMSA, and get familiar with your EPIRB's instructions before finding yourself in an emergency.

EPIRBs lined up on grass

Picture of EPIRBs supplied by AMSA

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