Throughout February, Maritime Safety Victoria is urging boaters to carry a distress beacon as part of our ‘Prepare to survive’ campaign.

Your lifejacket will help keep you afloat, but Victorian waters are cold year-round so you’ll want to get out quickly.

If you end up in cold Victorian waters you will generally have:

  • 1 minute to get your breathing under control and keep your head out of the water
  • 10-20 minutes of useful movement in which to get out of the water to prepare for rescue
  • 1 to 3 hours before you become unconscious due to hypothermia.

Activating a GPS-enabled emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) alerts rescuers to your distress and allows them to pinpoint your location – so they can get to you much faster.

“While you’re only required to carry an approved 406 MHz EPIRB when heading more than two nautical miles from the coast, they are your best bet for getting help – so take it every time you’re out on the water,” said Mr Toy.

Personal locator beacons

A personal locator beacon (PLB) does not meet the EPIRB requirements for coastal waters but is a handy bit of extra kit to have at hand on any waterway, especially if you enter the water and can’t get to your EPIRB. PLBs tend to be smaller and more lightweight, so they can also be used for other outdoor activities like four-wheel driving and bushwalking.

Prepare to survive: Carry a distress beacon

Want to win a beacon? Follow Maritime Safety Victoria on Facebook and enter one of our February quizzes – we’ve got an EPIRB and a PLB up for grabs!

Pictured: Distress beacons, Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)