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Coast Guard Recognizes 406 Day, Emergency Locator Beacon Awareness

April 6, 2018, 10:42 AM HST
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The Coast Guard announces that it recognizes 406 MHz Day and the importance of the use of emergency positioning indicating radio beacons in our maritime environment to save lives, Friday, April 6, 2018.

The Cospas-Sarsat satellite system uses a combination of different satellites to detect and locate emergency beacons. The satellites relay the distress signals from the emergency beacons to a network of ground stations and ultimately to the U.S. Mission Control Center in Suitland, Maryland. The USMCC processes the distress signal and alerts the appropriate search and rescue authorities to who is in distress and, more importantly, where they are located. (U.S. Coast Guard graphic/Released)

406 MHz Day is a national campaign run by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to increase awareness of the importance of emergency positioning indicating radio beacons and personal locator beacons in boating safety. It is an awareness day with a play on the date of April 6 to bring awareness to 406 MHz signals saving lives.

“A 406 MHz EPIRB is one of the most important safety devices you can have aboard your person, your vessel, or watercraft,” said Jennifer Conklin, a search and rescue mission coordinator at the Coast Guard 14th District. “In an emergency, these simple to active beacons transmit your position and registration information to search and rescue authorities, which triggers an immediate response. These beacons are proven life-savers.”

In 2017, within the United States and its surrounding waters, 275 people owe their rescue to the use of 406 MHz EPIRBs and NOAA satellites, which are part of the international search and rescue satellite-aided tracking system. This system uses a sprawling network of spacecraft to detect and locate distress signals quickly from emergency beacons aboard boats, aircraft and handheld personal locator beacons.

An EPIRB is a device that is designed to transmit a distress signal if you get into trouble. No matter where you are in the world, an EPIRB sends a signal to emergency responders through a satellite system called COPAS-SARSAT.

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This system uses a sprawling network of spacecraft to detect and locate distress signals quickly from emergency beacons aboard boats, aircraft and handheld personal locator beacons.

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Always ensure you are conducting self-tests according to the manufacturer’s instructions for your EPIRB or PLB. Each year the majority of false alerts occur during testing and maintenance.

Registration is valid for two years; owners must revalidate every two years.

Updated beacon information can decrease rescue response time during distress situations.
If you realize you have accidentally activated your beacon, call the Coast Guard at (855) 406-USCG (8724) with your beacon’s hex ID ready to cancel the false alert. This helps search and rescue personnel who would otherwise be out looking for you during an actual emergency.

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