Coast Guard raises awareness on 406 Day

The Cospas-Sarsat satellite system uses a combination of different satellites to detect and locate emergency beacons. The satellites relay the distress signals from the emergency beacons to a network of ground stations and ultimately to the U.S. Mission Control Center in Suitland, Maryland. The USMCC processes the distress signal and alerts the appropriate search and rescue authorities to who is in distress and, more importantly, where they are located. (U.S. Coast Guard graphic)

MIAMI – The Coast Guard is reminding boaters Friday of the importance of emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs) and personal locator beacons (PLBs) for 406 Day.

406 Day is a national campaign run by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to spread awareness of EPIRBs and PLBs for boating safety annually on April 6.

In 2017, the Seventh Coast Guard District responded to 223 distress signals from EPIRBS aboard aircraft and boats.

An EPIRB works by transmitting a signal generally at 406 MHz, the internationally recognized distress frequency, that is picked up by a satellite and then relayed to a rescue coordination center.

All beacon owners are reminded that beacon registration is free, easy and required by law. All EPIRBs must be registered in the NOAA SARSAT Beacon Registration Database, which is free to all beacon owners.

When beacon owner information changes, it should be updated online at or by contacting the NOAA SARSAT Beacon Registration Database at 1-888-212-SAVE (7283).

Owners are required to validate their beacon information every two years to ensure their contact information is up-to-date. Current beacon owner information allows search and rescue responders to work more efficiently and can decrease response time during distress situations.

If your EPIRB is accidentally activated, contact the U.S. Coast Guard via VHF-FM marine-band radio channel 16 or dial 1-855-406-USCG (8724) and provide them with the beacon’s ID to cancel the false alert.

Emergency responders act immediately to every activation of a distress beacon. Cancellation of false alerts helps protect emergency responders who would be utilized during an actual emergency, and ensures valuable resources are available to respond to actual distress cases.

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