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Industry leaders join forces on 406Day to raise beacon awareness

by Emma Slater, RYA 4 Jun 11:59 BST
PLB Rescue © RYA

As the weather and the boating season warm up, marine safety specialists and industry leaders are joining forces to highlight important safety advice by celebrating the first 406Day (Monday, 4 June 2018).

Beacon manufacturers ACR Electronics and Ocean Signal, supported by partners including the RYA, RNLI, Ocean Safety, and British Marine, are using the annual day to raise awareness about life-saving 406 MHz technology and to remind boaters about the benefits and responsibilities of owning a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) or EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon).

Helping people understand how to register, use and test their beacons correctly, 4/06/18 also celebrates the 41,000 lives saved by using 406 MHz beacons and the COSPAS-SARSAT Satellite system.

EPIRBs and PLBs operate on the 406 MHz frequency. Each 406 MHz beacon transmits a unique digital code that identifies the type of beacon and allows registration data to be associated with the beacon.

The registration data provides information such as the beacon owner, the type of vessel and emergency points of contact. Estimates indicate that when using the next-gen MEOSAR (Medium-Earth Orbit Search and Rescue) network, anyone activating a GPS-enabled EPIRB or PLB can expect their beacon to be located within 100 metres (328 feet), 95% of the time, within five minutes of the distress signal.

RYA

406Day partner RYA is highlighting its own advice and information about beacon use, as well as offering a chance to win an Ocean Signal rescueME EPIRB1 in a 24-hour social media competition. For your chance to win, watch the RYA social media channels Facebook @RoyalYachtingAssociation and Twitter @RYA on 4/06/2018. Just like and comment on Facebook and retweet and follow on Twitter to enter.

RYA Cruising Manager, Stuart Carruthers, said: "Put quite simply an EPIRB could mean the difference between surviving an incident at sea and losing your life. This could be because you are in a communications "hole" or because your boat has lost its VHF communications; you don't necessarily need to be hundreds of miles off shore and miles away from other vessels to be thankful of an EPIRB, or PLB."

RNLI

The RNLI is also supporting the initiative and using the Volvo Ocean Race Village in Cardiff to reinforce the message about beacon awareness to visitors during the fleet's much-anticipated stop in Wales. RNLI representatives on the stand on Monday, 4 June will be available to answer questions, explain how the lifesaving emergency communications enabled by 406 MHz signals assist search and rescue teams around the world and demonstrate how to operate and activate a Personal Locator Beacon.

British Marine

British Marine is running a prize draw to win an Ocean Signal rescueME EPIRB1 and is reminding all boaters about beacon use through its newsletter and social media.

Ocean Safety

Ocean Safety is marking the occasion by opening its doors from 10:30am to 3.30pm on Monday, 4 June at its Southampton branch to offer visitors a free EPIRB/PLB clinic. Ocean Safety's experts will be on hand to offer free EPIRB checks, assist with battery replacements and tests, fit PLBs to lifejackets, help with registry and to answer any questions about beacon ownership.

All year round, visual inspection and test sequence check of all leisure beacons is offered at Ocean Safety's four UK branches. Ocean Safety is also offering a free Ocean Signal rescueME EPIRB1 giveaway on its Facebook page.

James Hewitt, Sales and Marketing Manager, Ocean Signal, said: "We urge everyone to get involved by using #406Day18 to raise the profile of these important products on 4th June. If you are a beacon owner, please take some time to remind yourself about vital safety checks and procedures. For those whose lives have been touched by the use of an EPIRB or PLB in an emergency, it is the perfect time to thank rescue services.

"EPIRBs, for the vessel, and PLBs, which are registered to a person, are a fast and effective way to send an alert and enable the search and rescue authorities to identify and locate a casualty. However, it is vital that these essential safety devices are properly registered and maintained so that the beacons can be relied upon to function correctly when activated. 406 MHz signals save lives, but it is a technology that requires responsibility."

To improve safety out on the water, boaters should use the following checklist to serve as a reminder to check expiration dates and ensuring correct registry:

  • Is your EPIRB registered?
  • When was your EPIRB last tested/serviced?
  • Is your EPIRB programmed?
  • What is the battery life of your EPIRB and when does it need to be replaced?
  • Do you know how to self-test your EPIRB to ensure it is working correctly?
Everyone is encouraged to join the 406 conversation and help spread the word about beacon use by adding #406Day18 when posting on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter.

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