EPIRBs Save Lives
EPIRBS (Emergency Position Radio Beacons) are specially built radio transmitters that send out a 406 MHz emergency signal to orbiting COSPAS/SARSAT satellites which relay the boat’s location to rescue agencies around the world. Many EPIRBs now include a built-in GPS or can be connected to a GPS, which can shorten the time it takes to pinpoint the EPIRBs location and effect a rescue. EPIRBs are only to be used when there is immediate danger to lives or a chance of losing the vessel.
Category I and Category II EPIRBs
West Marine sells automatically activated (Category I) and manually activated (Category II) EPIRBs. Category I EPIRBs have a hydrostatic release that automatically deploys when submerged in water. This type is designed to be mounted in an open cockpit location where the EPIRB can “float free” if necessary. Category II EPIRBs require manual activation and should be stored in an easily accessed location.
About EPIRB Batteries
EPIRBs have built-in batteries with a long storage life and high reliability. In regard to battery life, EPIRBs have two dates on them: the Replacement Date and the Shelf Life (or some other term). The battery replacement date is there for Coast Guard inspected vessels. Recreational vessels can use the shelf life date, which is generally twice as long.
Over the years, EPIRBs have saved the lives of thousands of mariners who might otherwise have been lost at sea.