Be prepared before your trip. Stay safe on land.

When preparing for any adventure, it is important that you have the correct equipment to survive all possible emergency situations ahead and stay alive until help arrives.

Important safety tips for land based activities

We encourage all outdoor enthusiasts to ensure they are well prepared before venturing into the remote outdoors.

Research the area you plan on visiting

Always plan ahead and ensure that the weather conditions are safe for the activities you plan on doing.

Check the weather with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). You can download the BOM mobile phone application so that you can regularly check the weather conditions for any approaching storms or unexpected changes. 

You can also contact tourist information centres nearby to get relevant information on the area including weather conditions, terrain, and other details to determine the safety equipment you may need to take. Local or expert knowledge and advice is invaluable when preparing for all possible emergency situations.

If you are travelling overseas, check the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website for travel advice and to register your travel plans.

Carry the correct safety equipment

The safety equipment you carry should be reviewed before each trip and suitable for the area you plan on visiting. Here are some tips on what to take.

  • Adequate supplies including enough food, water and first aid supplies to see you through the journey.
  • When navigating keep to your planned route and follow the map and walking trails. If you are using electronic navigation equipment, ensure you have spare batteries and paper maps as a backup.
  • A means of verbal telecommunications such as a two-way radio or satellite phone. This is the most effective way of communicating your emergency.
  • A registered GPS distress beacon.
Carry a personal locator beacon

Distress beacons play a key role in search and rescue (SAR) operations across Australia, often in remote locations and at sea.

While many people associate distress beacons with rescues at sea, personal locator beacons (PLBs) are becoming increasingly popular for land based activities with more than 100,000 registered Australia wide. PLBs are being used by many outdoor enthusiasts including bushwalkers, prospectors, 4WD drivers, aircraft pilots and other adventurers who travel to remote areas.

PLBs are designed to be worn on your body so that it is within easy reach in the event of an emergency. Multiple PLBs are also used in hiking groups in case hikers become separated and required emergency assistance.

If you ever find yourself in a life threatening situation where two-way communication is unavailable, activate your distress beacon to alert SAR authorities.

Australian distress beacon alerts are detected by the Cospas-Sarsat satellite system and received by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra. The coordination and response for land search and rescue is managed by the state police.

Read more about search and rescue arrangements in Australia.

How to prepare your beacon before heading into the remote outdoors

Register your beacon

We have improved the online beacon registration system to make it more mobile friendly and accessible for registering and updating your beacon information from your mobile, tablet or laptop.

Save your proof of registration

When required by law, providing proof of registration is easy. The four options are:

  1. SMS—save your SMS registration confirmation on your mobile phone
  2. email—save your confirmation email on your mobile phone or tablet
  3. print—print your registration confirmation, or if you don't have email, request a printed copy to be posted to you
  4. online—check your beacon registration status online.

If you have an existing beacon registration sticker it will remain valid until it expires.

Update your registration details

Make sure your details are up to date in your online beacon registration account. This includes your contact details and emergency contacts. You can also upload details about your trip plans and photos of your vehicle to help us identify you in an emergency.

Check your battery expiry date

Regularly check your battery expiry date and test your beacon as per the manufacturer's instructions. Even if the light operates when you are testing your beacon after the battery expiry date, this does not guarantee your beacon will work correctly in a distress situation. Make sure you service and replace the battery before it expires.

Being a responsible beacon owner

Store your beacon correctly

With great power, comes great responsibility so it is important you look after your beacon to ensure it looks after you when needed most. This includes ensuring the beacon is stowed correctly and in a safe area away from anything or anyone that may cause it to inadvertently activate.

If you have accidentally activated your beacon, phone us immediately on 1800 641 792. There is no penalty for inadvertent beacon activation.

Dispose responsibly

Another aspect of looking after your beacon is ensuring that it is disposed of responsibly.

Australia’s SAR system commits many hours and valuable resources searching for unwanted beacons in rubbish tips. This diverts important SAR resources away from real distress situations. So please, don’t bin your beacon!

If you choose to replace your beacon, ensure that you dispose of it responsibly. Disposal options are available on the distress beacons website.

Service your beacon

If you have used your beacon in a distress situation, ensure that you have your beacon serviced by a certified servicing agent.

Find out who is authorised to service your beacon in Australia.

For more information on how to prepare/use your beacon or to update registration visit the beacons site or phone 02 6279 5000.

Last updated: 15 July 2020