As the weather and the boating season warm up, marine safety specialists, industry leaders, charities and ambassadors are joining forces to highlight important safety advice by celebrating 406Day on Monday, 4thJune.
Beacon manufacturers Ocean Signal and ACR Electronics, supported by partners including the RNLI, Ocean Safety, British Marine, the RYA, PLB campaigners PLanB charity and solo ocean rower Lia Ditton, 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 will also be a celebration of the over 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 5 minutes of the distress signal.
Ocean Safety is marking the occasion by opening its doors from 10:30am to 3.30pm on Monday, 4thJune 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.
The RNLI is 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 from 25th May to 10th June. RNLI representatives on the stand on Monday 4thJune 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.
If you visit the RNLI stand at the Volvo Ocean Race on the 4thJune and chat with them about the different ‘Calling For Help’ devices, you could be in with a chance to win a PLB that has kindly been gifted by Ocean Signal.
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.”
British Marine is supporting 406Day and reminding all boaters about beacon use through its newsletter and website.
PLanB was set up in response to the tragic death of Dom Jackson in a preventable sea kayaking accident. Dom’s life could have been saved had he taken basic safety precautions, so PLanB aims to raise awareness of devices such as PLBs. As part of the charity’s drive to provide online information and app based services to support safe planning and reporting for people on land and at sea, PLanB will be supporting 406Day on its Social Media.
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 4thJune. 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.”
Jointly committed to improving the safety of those out in the water, Ocean Signal, its UK distributor Ocean Safety and ACR Electronics offer 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 conversation and help spread the word about beacon use by adding #406Day18 when posting on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter.
Visit ACR’s SurvivorClub (You use it – we replace it program) and Ocean Signal’s Rescue Stories to see real life testimonies shared by people of all ages and from all walks of life, who thanks to their beacon, have lived to tell the tale.