NEWS - Warning on beacons to boaties

NEWS - Warning on beacons to boaties

One of Australia’s largest battery retailers has warned boaties they could be putting themselves and their crews in danger by failing to replace analogue emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs) with digital EPIRBs.

Battery World general manager, James Nixon-Smith said the old 121.5 MHz EPIRB had been phased out under new maritime laws and those still using them could be in jeopardy during an emergency.

“The digital 406 MHz EPIRBs officially replaced the old 121.5 MHz models last November as required safety equipment for all boats operating more than two nautical miles from land,” Nixon-Smith said.

“From February 1 this year, the monitoring of the 121.5MHz beacons stopped so you can no longer rely on them in an emergency. The change to digital was brought about to provide authorities in a rescue situation with more accurate information, in a much shorter timeframe than the old system,” he said.

Nixon-Smith said disposal of the old analogue EPIRBs had become an issue for maritime authorities.

“We are seeing the old analogue systems dropped off at suburban tips and then going off, resulting in emergency units searching for a distressed beacon and wasting resources,” said Nixon-Smith, who added that Battery World was seeing an increase in wrongful disposal of these analogue systems, which was causing stress for emergency crews.

“We have collected more than 16,000 units since the law was introduced, but still believe there are thousands of units being used or wrongfully disposed of,” Nixon-Smith said. “Most boaties have been responsible, but we still believe thousands of analogue battery operated EPIRBs are still in use.”

Battery World says it is offering free disposal of analogue EPIRBs to individual boat owners, which ensures the batteries are correctly disarmed and the waste properly disposed of.

“We accept old analogue EPIRBs in all of our 71 stores across Australia and have even seen them handed in at remote locations such as Alice Springs,” Nixon-Smith said.