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Disposal of beacons

Care should be taken when disposing of your PLB or EPIRB when it is no longer required. False alerts from discarded beacons can cause rescue authorities to expend much time and effort in locating discarded EPIRBs or PLBs that have been accidentally activated. Please ensure that care is taken to completely deactivate the beacon and advise the registration authority that the beacon is no longer in service.

It is recommended to remove the battery from the beacon by removing the case lid. Dispose of the battery in accordance with local waste regulations. Please note that Ocean Signal beacons are not user serviceable and removing the lid will invalidate the warranty.

Why is there an expiry date on my primary battery?

The lithium battery is designed to be used in an emergency. Unlike a rechargeable battery the amount of capacity and hence the operational life is known.
The expiry date is based on the self-discharge figures for the battery, taking the worst-case scenarios, thus ensuring the rated operational life is always achieved.

What is an EPIRB?

EPIRB stands for ‘Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon’. EPIRB transmissions are monitored by the international organisation COSPAS-SARSAT using a constellation of satellites. On receipt of an alert from an EPIRB, the identity of the beacon is passed to the relevant national rescue coordination centre.

Ready our Blog: What is an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon

For more information on the system please go to COSPAS-SARSAT webpage.

Why must I register my beacon?

Registering your beacon will speed up the rescue authorities’ attempt to rescue you, providing valuable information to help identify you and contact people who might aid in identification. It is very important to ensure your registration details are accurate.

Please note that normally, the registration should be in your country of residence or the country your vessel is registered to. When you purchase an EPIRB or PLB from a supplier in another country, make sure they configure it for your intended country of registration; otherwise, it is unlikely that the registration will be accepted.

Click Here to Register

What is the advantage of a GPS fitted EPIRB?

The GPS-enabled EPIRB not only provides search and rescue authorities with a more accurate position but it will also reach them quicker.

Traditional EPIRBs rely on the passing overhead of one or more COSPAS-SARSAT satellites to determine their positions. The delay in securing a suitable satellite pass can be a critical factor, potentially making the difference between life and death, particularly in colder waters.

Equipped with GPS technology, an EPIRB immediately relays its position via geostationary satellites to the rescue authorities, significantly reducing the time needed for your rescue. This advancement in technology proves invaluable in expediting rescue operations.

Where do I register my EPIRB or PLB?

All EPIRBs or PLBs should be registered in the country where you live or where your vessel is registered.

Follow the link for the COSPAS SARSAT country contact list for information on where to register your device.

Transporting Ocean Signal Products as a Passenger onboard an Aircraft

Most Ocean Signal products contain Lithium batteries for which there are regulations on carrying on aeroplanes as a passenger. The following rules and guidance will help you carry our products for personal use as hand luggage.

(For shipping by air as cargo, the relevant IATA regulations must be followed.)

Products containing Lithium batteries may be carried on board aircraft as carry-on luggage under IATA regulation (currently 65th Edition 2024).

All the products listed below contain one or more batteries containing less than 2 grams of lithium metal and are tested according to the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, Subsection 38.3.

When carrying your products or spare batteries, please observe the following requirements:

– Make sure the device is protected from accidental activation. We recommend adding to the protection by using the retail packaging, where possible, or covering the unit in a protective cover such as bubble wrap.
– If carrying spare batteries, ensure they are individually wrapped in strong, plastic bags covering the terminals to avoid short circuits.
– Please check online with your airline for any further restrictions they may impose before you travel.
– We recommend printing off our battery datasheet pertaining to your beacon, so you have all the necessary information to hand if questioned.

These can be found here – Ocean Signal Battery Datasheets

How do Cospas Sarsat beacons work?

The COSPAS/SARSAT system utilises two satellite arrays to provide a distress alert and location data to search and rescue authorities. The GEOSAR system can provide near-immediate alerting within the coverage of the receiving satellite. The LEOSAR system provides coverage of the polar region beyond the range of the GEOSAR system. LEOSAR satellites can calculate the location of distress events using Doppler processing techniques and are less susceptible to obstructions which could block a signal in a given direction. The system is comprised of instruments on board the satellites which detect the signals from the distress beacons.

Ground receiving stations, referred to as Local Users Terminals (LUTs) receive and process the satellite downlink signal to generate the distress alerts. The distress alerts, generated by the LUTs, are then received by Mission Control Centres (MCCs) which then forward the alert to Rescue Co-ordination Centres (RCCs), Search and Rescue Points of Contacts (SPOCs) and other MCCs.

A new generation of SAR transponders are now on the European Galileo, Russia’s Glonass, United States’ GPS and China’s BeiDou satellites. These satellites all operate in a higher orbit than the LEOSAR satellites and are known as MEOSAR. The increased number of satellites dramatically improves the detection times of distress alerts. The MEOSAR transponders are fully compatible with current generation EPIRBs and PLBs, but future beacons will use “2nd generation” technology improving location accuracy over the existing system.

This Cospas Sarsat Video explains the advantages of having an EPIRB or PLB for use in an emergency and what happens when the beacon is activated.