Wednesday, 9 March 2016

EPIRB and safety

We heard recently about a product recall affecting an important bit of safety kit. The company involved – McMurdo - were really efficient in informing customers and getting replacements out. So good in fact that we had received our replacement before the snail mail letter from the Coastguard Agency warning us that we were affected by the recall had even reached us.
Coastguard Agency Safety bulletin
An Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacon (EPIRB or Eee-per-b) is used in an emergency as a means to call for assistance. Once activated either manually or by being immersed in salty water, the beacon emits a distress alert. This signal is relayed via satellite to an earth station then to the nearest rescue co-ordination centre. The idea is that any signal will assist search and rescue efforts. Once triggered the beacon should stay afloat for 48 hours giving out it’s signal. Inbuilt GPS helps narrow the search area down even more, essential when it is difficult to see anything in confused seas or poor visibility or there is a huge area of water to search. Since the satellite alert system (COSPAS-SARSAT) was set up over 20,000 people have been rescued as a direct result of the rescue data from EPIRB alerts.
The replacement EPIRB arrived in a
large, well padded box 

Not everyone who sets sail needs to have one. In sailing there is a lot of freedom including the personal choice associated with safety. Where and when you sail also makes a difference as to whether an EPIRB is a sensible investment or not; they are certainly not cheap. There is a big difference between being in trouble in the Solent on a summer weekend surrounded by lots of other  boaters and being alone in the middle of Biscay. They are also used by other adventurers including mountaineers, kayakers and light aircraft. Obviously knowing where you are will vastly increase your chances of rescue should the worst happen, it is certainly worth considering packing one on your adventure.
Our old one on the left, now deactivated and the
new one on the right. Hopefully we will never need it.
More information can be found at: There are lots of makes available and we are not suggesting that this is the best one. It is the one we chose and we have been very happy with the service. McMurdo have no idea that I am writing this blog.


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