Ensure correct disposal of unwanted distress beacons

Tuesday 30 April 2013
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is reminding people to dispose of their unwanted distress beacons properly at Battery World stores after three false alerts over the weekend.
Media Release

AMSA's Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC Australia) responded to two distress beacon alerts in the Brisbane area, tasking rescue assets and personnel to investigate.

It was determined that neither beacon was associated with a genuine emergency.

One of these beacons was found disposed in a household bin at Burpengary, while the second beacon was found in a waste facility at Nudgee.

RCC Australia also responded to a third beacon in Geraldton in Western Australia over the weekend. This beacon was also located at a waste facility.

These false alarm incidents require the use of emergency response resources and personnel, which may be diverted from a genuine emergency.

Unwanted beacons should be disposed of at Battery World stores around Australia. For more information, visit the beacons website. 

This financial year to date, AMSA had 46 confirmed cases of distress beacons being disposed of incorrectly. In the 2011-12 financial year, there were 73 confirmed cases.

Most of these beacons were the older 121.5MHz beacons, which have been phased out since 2009 and cannot be detected by satellites.

All distress beacon owners are encouraged to switch to the current 406MHz beacon and register it with AMSA.

Registration is free and can result in a more efficient search and rescue effort. In the case of an accidental activation, registration can also often avoid the tasking of emergency resources to investigate.

406MHz distress beacons transmit a unique code that identifies a particular beacon when it is activated.

A registered 406MHz beacon allows RCC Australia to access the registration database and find contact details, details of registered vessels, aircraft or vehicles, and details of up to three nominated emergency contacts who may be contacted if a beacon is activated and contact cannot be made.

Beacons can be registered online or by phoning 1800 406 406.