A milestone registration update from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) database which recently hit a record number of 500,000 registered 406 MHz emergency beacons. The beacon to make that milestone was an ACR Electronics ResQLink Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), owned by a Coast Guard Auxiliary member in Rhode Island. Shortly after that the 500,001st beacon successfully registered was an ARTEX Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT).
Beacons come in three designs used for different applications. Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) which are mounted on boats, Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) used by outdoors enthusiasts and Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs), which are installed on airplanes. NOAA is the governing agency in the United States of America which is responsible for compiling all US beacon owner’s registration data. Registration is free. Your registered information will give Search and Rescue (SAR) key information which may make the difference between life and death.
Distress radio beacons more commonly known as 406 MHz emergency beacons, are essentially radio transmitters that can be activated in a life-threatening emergency. The signals they transmit then summon emergency assistance from Search and Rescue; these beacons communicate directly with the inter-government owned and operated Cospas-Sarsat satellite system. It is important that the SAR personnel on the receiving end of the distress notification have the most accurate information as possible.
Beacon registration with NOAA is required by law. If an individual’s contact information such as their phone number, address or a new boat is acquired, that information must be updated. If one sells their 406 MHz beacon NOAA should also be notified. Giving a description, proper medical and emergency contact information is integral in helping Search and Rescue when responding to a deployed beacon.
ACR Electronics is the largest US manufacturer of 406 MHz beacons and remind their customers to register their beacons by including NOAA registration forms along with a stamped envelope with all of the beacons they sell in the United States.
ACR also encourages and promotes beacon registration by hosting “406Day,” which is an awareness day with a play on the date April 6th (4/06). ACR Electronics and their partners use 406Day to create online awareness of the benefits and responsibilities of owning a 406 MHz beacon. A slew of messages are broadcast from various social media accounts and via editorial stories which include messages on beacon protocol and safety tips.