After a while I got pretty cold. I realised that my fingers weren’t working that well and that, if I’m going to be setting off this beacon, it probably needs to be soon.
- James

Carry a distress beacon

If you’ve ended up in cool Victorian waters from your vessel, activating a GPS-enabled emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) gives you the best chance of alerting rescuers to your distress and allows them to pinpoint your location.

While you’re only required to carry an approved 406 MHz EPIRB when heading more than two nautical miles from the coast, they are your best bet for getting help - so take it every time you’re out on the water.

If your vessel capsizes or sinks, or you fall in the water and can’t get back on board, you need to get help as soon as possible.

A personal locater beacon (PLB) does not meet the EPIRB requirements but is a handy bit of extra kit to have at hand, especially if you fall overboard and you can’t get to your EPIRB. PLBs tend to be smaller and more lightweight.

Your lifejacket will help keep you afloat, but Victorian waters are cold year-round so you’ll want to get out quickly.

Activate your distress beacon, dial 000 if you can. You can’t rely solely on a mobile phone or hand-held radio – they might not work when wet, and touchscreens may be unresponsive to cold wet fingers.

Print off this useful guide to beacons and how they work: Distress beacons - AMSA

Here's why

  • If you can’t get out of the water, you need to be rescued to survive.
  • Your lifejacket buys you time to raise the alarm and wait for help.
  • For rescuers to arrive, you need to let someone know you need them.
  • If rescuers can’t find you, they can’t rescue you.

Here's how

  • All boaters should have a GPS-enabled EPIRB on board.
  • Look into getting a PLB, especially if you’re a paddler or tend to boat alone.
  • Register your EPIRB/PLB with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
  • Learn more on AMSA's beacons website