September is National Preparedness Month and with a more active than usual hurricane season, ensuring you have the proper safety equipment is paramount. While the U.S. Coast Guard strongly encourages boaters to have emergency positioning indicating radio beacons, having them properly registered is just as important as owning one.
“Registering a PPIRB or EPIRB – Personal/emergency position indicating radio beacons – is very easy; all it requires is going to the NOAA website at https://beaconregistration.noaa.gov/rgdb/ and entering the proper contact information. Properly registering your PPIRB and EPIRB ensures the Coast Guard and rescue centers receive the pertinent information if you’re in an emergency,” says U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Sena.
“Your life may be saved quickly due to the proper registration because it gives us more to go off of. This information can be very helpful in confirming a distress situation exists, and in arranging appropriate rescue efforts,” continues Lt. Sena.
If the EPIRB is properly registered, the Coast Guard will be able to use the registration information to immediately begin action on the case. If the PPIRB/EPIRB is unregistered, a distress alert may take as much as two hours longer to reach the Coast Guard over the international satellite system.
PPIRBS and EPIRBS come in two categories. Category I’s are float automatically activate when they hit water. They are detectable by satellite anywhere in the world.
Category II’s are similar to the first except it is manually activated. They can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to about a thousand dollars.
Larger EPIRBs are ones you’d commonly see on commercial vessels or fishing vessels. PPIRPBs are generally smaller and ones you’d like to have on you like in your lifejacket.
Since they are manually activated, Lt. Sena suggests to keep it on you in case of an emergency. Most of the time you see these on people kayaking or even hiking!
Don’t forget- you need to reregister your EPIRB every year and if you sell your boat and gear on it, transfer the registration to the new owner or owners.
Labeling your kayak with proper identification is also something Lt. Sena strongly urges. “It may seem like a broken record since we’re constantly pushing the Operation Paddle Smart campaign but we constantly receive numerous calls regarding found adrift equipment.”
He says this often times prompts them to launch and more often than not, these cases turn up no results because no one was in distress in the first place. Unfortunately, this could take us away from the Coast Guard searching for actual persons in distress. The Operation Paddle Smart campaign came about because the Coast Guard was spending a lot of time and money searching for folks potentially in distress because people found equipment out there without knowing whose it was.
Additionally, gear, when it’s adrift at sea, can become a collision hazard for other boaters who are out there fishing or just enjoying being out in the water.
The use of these stickers to mark watercraft is a part of a voluntary program. Examples of items that should be marked include kayaks; stand up paddleboards, dinghy, dive floats or anything that you can take out in the ocean. Stickers can be attained at boating supply stores, canoe clubs or from the Coast Guard Auxiliary.