Important safety tips for marine-based activities
When venturing out on the water, it is essential that you are properly prepared for all possible situations ahead including emergencies.
Are you really ready to go?
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) encourages you to be well prepared with the correct safety equipment before heading out onto the water.
Going out to drop a line, go for a joy ride or seek an adventure, it is important that you do your research beforehand to ensure that you and the people on board are going to be safe and well prepared for all possible emergency situations ahead. This may include:
Check the weather conditions - This includes understanding how the weather affects the conditions of the ocean. If the weather isn’t looking up to scratch, reschedule the boating trip for better conditions.
Carry safety equipment suitable for all possible emergency situations ahead – Check carriage requirements with your State Maritime Agency to ensure you are compliant.
Carry a reliable means of verbal communications – This may include a marine radio. Do not rely on your mobile phone as your only means of communication on the water.
Let your emergency contact know of your trip plans and details, including your approximate time of arrival – A family member or friend will be able to alert search and rescue authorities if you have not returned home safely by the specified time.
Don’t forget to contact your emergency contact once you have returned safely.
Carry a registered GPS distress beacon; in some cases it is the law.
There are two types of distress beacons that can be used within the marine environment:
Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB)
Designed specifically to be used in the marine environment. In most states, EPIRBs are required for boats that travel more than 2 nautical miles from the coast.
Personal Locating Beacon (PLB)
PLBs are smaller and easier to transport than other beacons, and are designed to be worn or carried by individuals on your body. In some cases, PLBs do not meet carriage requirements for maritime vessels travelling more than 2 nautical miles from the coast but can be carried in addition to an EPIRB.
AMSA recommends that you research your vessel’s carriage requirements to ensure you are compliant with the legal requirements.
How to prepare your beacon before heading out on the water
Register your beacon
AMSA has recently 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:
- SMS - Save your SMS registration confirmation on your mobile phone
- Email - Save your confirmation email on your mobile phone or tablet
- Print – Print your registration confirmation, or if you have no email, request a printed copy to be sent via mail
- Online – Check your beacon registration status online
Note: 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 now upload details about your trip plans and photos of your vessel or 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 manufacturers’ instructions. Note that 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. So make sure you service and replace the battery before it expires.
Are you a responsible beacon owner? Find out by checking off the following:
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 being a responsible owner and ensuring the beacon is stowed correctly, in a safe area away from anything or anyone that may cause it to accidentally activate.
If you have accidentally activated your beacon, please ring AMSA response immediately on 1800 641 792. There is no penalty for inadvertent beacon activations.
Another aspect of looking after your beacon, is ensuring that it is disposed of responsibly.
Australia’s search and rescue system commits many hours and valuable resources searching for unwanted beacons in rubbish tips. This diverts important search and rescue 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.
Don’t use your expired beacon as a backup
It has come to AMSA’s attention that beacon owners are using their old expired beacons as backups. This has proven to be confusing in distress situations when there are only seconds to react.
Don’t put the lives of those on board at risk by using an expired beacon as a backup.
Servicing your beacon
If you have used your beacon in a distress situation, ensure that you have your beacon serviced by a certified servicing agent.
- For more information on beacons or to update your registration, please visit the Distress Beacons website at www.amsa.gov.au/beacons or phone (02) 6279 5000.
- Contact a State Marine Safety Agency