A Short Introduction To EPIRB’s

A Short Introduction To EPIRB’s

In the vast and unpredictable expanse of the Australian waterways, ensuring your safety and security is paramount. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor, or a brand new skipper, having the right equipment can mean the difference between life and death. One such crucial piece of safety gear is an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). In this post, we will guide you through the process of activating an EPIRB in Australia, providing you with the knowledge and confidence to handle emergency situations effectively.

Understanding the Basics

What is an EPIRB?

An EPIRB is a small electronic device designed to transmit a distress signal in emergencies. When activated, it sends a unique distress signal via satellite to search and rescue authorities, indicating your precise location.

Types of EPIRBs

There are two main types of EPIRBs: Category I and Category II. Category I EPIRBs are automatically activated and deployed when submerged in water, while Category II EPIRBs must be manually activated by the user.

Before You Set Out

Register Your EPIRB

Before embarking on any adventure, it is crucial to register your EPIRB with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). Registration provides vital information that aids rescuers in locating you quickly. Ensure your registration details are up-to-date, including emergency contacts and vessel information if applicable.

You can register the EPIRB online with AMSA through this link. It only take a few minutes.

Perform Regular Checks

Regularly inspect your EPIRB to ensure it is in good working condition. Check the battery expiration date and perform a self-test, if available. Familiarize yourself with the device’s operation manual to understand its features thoroughly.

Activating Your EPIRB

Assess the Situation

In an emergency, assess the situation calmly and quickly. If you determine that activating the EPIRB is necessary, follow these steps:

Step 1: Remove the EPIRB from its Bracket

If your EPIRB is mounted in a bracket, remove it promptly.

Step 2: Manually Activate the EPIRB

For Category II EPIRBs, manually activate the device by following the instructions provided in the user manual. Typically, this involves flipping a switch or deploying an antenna.

Step 3: Wait for Confirmation

Once activated, wait for confirmation that your distress signal has been transmitted successfully. EPIRBs are equipped with a strobe light and, in some cases, a GPS receiver, making it easier for rescuers to locate you.

Post-Activation Procedures

Stay Calm and Await Rescue

After activating the EPIRB, stay calm and remain at your location. Avoid unnecessary movements, as it may be challenging for rescuers to locate a constantly moving target.

Communicate with Rescuers

If you have other means of communication, such as a VHF radio or a satellite phone, establish contact with the rescuers. Provide them with additional information about your situation, the number of people onboard, and any medical emergencies if applicable.


Activating an EPIRB in Australia is a straightforward yet crucial process that can significantly enhance your chances of survival during emergencies. By understanding the basics, registering your device, and following the proper activation procedures, you contribute to your safety and the effectiveness of search and rescue operations. Remember, being prepared and informed can make all the difference when exploring the vast and beautiful landscapes of Australia. Stay safe!

Bonus step: get your licence

Activating an EPIRB means something’s gone very wrong. A responsible skipper knows how to use it, but never actually has to.

Our NSW boat and PWC licence courses are delivered by experienced and accredited trainers who provide in-depth education to not only pass the licence exam, but to also stay safe on the water.

To get your licence, you can book online or reach out to our friendly office team on (02) 9524 5678.

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