Just a few days ago there was a report of an Epirb activating because the owner discarded it in the incorrect way. A rescue team responding to an activated emergency beacon in central Queensland arrived at the source of the signal to find no emergency, but a pile of rubbish.

The beacon, commonly used by boats, was activated on Tuesday while lying at the Mackay dump after being thrown out making it an expensive trip to the dump for the RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter.

RACQ CQ Rescue acting base manager Quinton Rethus pleaded with people to correctly dispose of expired or unused emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs).

“Beacons can inadvertently activate if they are not correctly disposed of, which often occurs when beacons are thrown in the rubbish and end up in tips which can occur,” he said.

“Each year, thousands of dollars are spent searching for beacons lost in rubbish dumps.”

Usually the activation of a distress beacon can be the difference between life and death, but in this case, the unnecessary trip to the dump took the helicopter service away from a real emergency.

When an EPIRB is activated a rescue is likely within three hours, compared to about 30 hours or unsuccessful without a beacon.

Mr Rethus said beacon batteries were hazardous and therefore should be disposed of correctly.

“Check the bacon manufacturer’s instructions as they may provide directions on how to disconnect the beacon battery,” he said.

“Once disconnected, contact your nearest waste management facility to ask about disposing of your unwanted beacon in an environmentally friendly way.”

Following is disposal instructions from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority:

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) have issued a media release (PDF, 92 KB)about updated disposal options for unwanted Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs or beacons).

The preferred options for Queensland boaties who want to dispose of unwanted beacons are the first and third options in this media release. That is, to either:

  1. Contact your local battery store. A small fee may apply.
  2. Disconnect the beacon battery according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Then contact your local waste management facility to ask about environmentally friendly disposal options. A small fee may apply.

The EPIRB disposal page on the AMSA website also has information on how to disconnect batteries for many brands of EPIRBs.

If you are not sure about you current Epirb give us a call or drop on in with it and we will more than happy to help you out.