Boaters urged to properly dispose of EPIRBs

The Coast Guard is reminding boaters to properly dispose of Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons when they are no longer in use, to avoid causing false alarms.

“The Coast Guard treats every distress signal we receive as an actual cry for help, and improperly discarded EPIRBs activating in landfills or the ocean divert costly resources integral to providing safety to mariners” said Paul Webb, from the Coast Guard 17th District Response Department.

EPIRBs are devices employed to save lives by transmitting a signal to rescuers with the position of vessels in trouble. When they are improperly disposed of they can cost the Coast Guard valuable time and taxpayers thousands of dollars in resource costs.

Unwanted EPIRBs should be disposed of by either removing the battery and shipping the unit back to its manufacturer or rendering the unit inoperable by demolishing it, according to the International Maritime Organization and the Coast Guard. The EPIRB should also be unregistered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in any case when the unit has been disposed of or transferred to a new owner.

The Coast Guard routinely refers cases involving the non-distress activation of an EPIRB to the Federal Communications Commission, including hoaxes, gross negligence, carelessness or improper storage and handling. The FCC can prosecute cases based upon evidence provided by the Coast Guard, and will issue warning letters or notices of apparent liability or fines up to $10,000.

For more information on EPIRBs, contact NOAA at 1-888-212-7283.