EPIRBs - An Essential Safety Item



GME have designed and manufactured world class radio communication equipment within Australia for over fifty years. As a proud stockist of GME EPIRB’s, we understand the importance of good design and parts on safety items as essential as an EPIRB as does the rest of the marine industry.

Here’s an article we came across recently that we feel provides a good overview of the functions and importance of the EPIRB for any boat owner that's looking to be out on the water for longer lengths of time this Summer.


Life, Death and Satellites by Al McGlashan

This article was originally published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph on Friday December 18 2015.

There is nothing sexy about EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons). There’s also nothing sexy about drowning. EPIRBs are one of the most important pieces of safety gear any boat can carry offshore.

In essence, it is a locating beacon that once activated – either manually, or by contact with water – sends a signal of your location via satellite straight to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) in Canberra.

The AMSA in turn alert local authorities and co-ordinate a rescue operation. In layman’s terms, when you are in deep trouble, it’s the EPIRB that will lead rescuers straight to you.

When you consider just how big the ocean is, it’s suddenly very reassuring that the search party is heading directly to you as opposed to simply searching.

A vast majority of EPIRBs were purchased several years ago when the updated 406 MHz signal frequency was introduced making it law that all boats heading more than two nautical miles offshore had to have one as part of its safety gear.

However what a lot of people don’t know is that most of the earlier models have a seven-year battery life, so they are about to run out.

Now with the summer season upon us the last thing we often think about is safety gear. It’s like insurance, you don’t worry about it until something happens.

However, unlike insurance, where you can just update your policy, when it comes to safety at sea it’s a whole lot more serious if you discover your EPIRB’s battery is flat.

This is particularly so with four-stroke outboards being so reliable. Anglers are an adventurous lot and are now heading a lot further offshore in search of fish. The further you go out to sea, the greater the potential risk if something goes wrong.

Remember that VHF radio communication drops out, even with repeaters, past the continental shelf and, of course, mobile phones are hopeless way offshore, so suddenly you are all on your own. If there is a mishap it’s all about your EPIRB.

So what do you need to do? First up, check your EPIRB to see it has expired, or is close to expiring. You can either send it back to the manufacturer for a battery replacement or simply buy a new one. The newer models are far more accurate and, better still, the price has come down considerably.

GME’s new GPS-equipped EPIRB can get a location fix in less than 10 minutes as opposed to hours like the old versions.

More importantly is its accuracy and the new beacons can pinpoint your position to within 150m which is a lot more reassuring than just 5km like the older versions. There’s also increased battery life, of 10 years. It’s impressive technology, which hopefully never needs to be used!


For more info on EPIRBS, including the rest of the GME range of safety products, head to the brand page here or check out the video below.

Category: Boating, Safety

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