A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is a personal electronic transmitter used to alert rescuers that there is a life-threatening situation.
Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)
A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is a (small) electronic device that is used as an emergency beacon to alert rescue workers. In a life-threatening situation, you activate the PLB and a signal is transmitted on a 406 MHz frequency or Local Area System with 121.5 MHz, VHF DSC and / or AIS.
With a single push on the button you can send a call for help to SAR Teams (search and rescue). This has quite a life-saving ability, but how does it work?
How do portable emergency beacons work?
A portable emergency beacon is a small portable device that, when activated, emits a distress signal that can be received by a global satellite system. This then forwards the message to ground receivers and the appropriate Rescue Control Center (RCCS). These RCCs then send a Search and Rescue (SAR) team to help you.
PLBs should only be activated in a real emergency, as rescuers are going to look for you.
PLBs are used in Man Overboard (MOB) equipment such as life jackets, but also in water sports such as kite surfing and windsurfing. They play an important role in rescuing people during life-threatening situations.
The Locators are a fairly new addition to the rescue options for water sports enthusiasts and those engaged in activities far beyond civilization.
Different types of Personal Locator Beacons
There are different types and models of emergency beacons, from very simple to very advanced. The simplest PLBs only have the 406MHz transmitter, these are the cheapest versions.
The models with a 406 MHz transmitter plus a 121.5 MHz homing transmitter are slightly more expensive and can send the rescuer near your location faster.
Nowadays all new PLBs have an internal GPS receiver (Global Positioning System), this allows the PLB to send your actual location with the emergency message and the rescuer is quickly on the spot.
Models with a 406 MHz transmitter with GPS function are of course essential for kite surfers because there is the greatest chance that you will be saved quickly. Kitesurfers lying in the water can cool down and quick help is required.
Why is a smartphone not enough?
A question that arises within the kitesurfing scene:
“Why is my smartphone not sufficient as an emergency rescue?”
We all have a mobile device and nowadays you have good cases that are waterproof. However, there are drawbacks using a smartphone as a life saver. We list the advantages and disadvantages of a portable emergency beacon versus a smartphone.
Advantages of a PLB compared to smartphone:
Buy Personal Locator Beacons
Do you often Kite at sea? Do you like a bit of risk? Take a PLB with GPS with you when you go out on the water. This is advice from the KNRM, but also from us.
If you want to buy a portable emergency beacon, consider the following:
Portable emergency beacon for kite surfers
35 Knots went searching for PLB’s and contacted True Heading, distributor of Ocean Signal products. They are suppliers of maritime safety products, including the PLB1 RescueMe. This is a handy beacon for kite surfers PLB1 from Ocean Signal. In case of emergency, this will setup direct contact with Search and Rescue services and the GPS will immediately tell your exact location to the emergency services.
PLB1 Ocean Signal
The RescueMe PLB1 from Ocean Signal is the smallest beacon in the world and therefore very suitable for kite surfers. The device is waterproof up to 15 meters and has a neoprene cover with buoyancy. The RescueMePLB1 is easy to attach to your harness so you can activate the system easy in an emergency and does not bother during your kitesurfing session.
Use only in case of emergency
The portable emergency beacon immediately activates emergency services when the emergency button is pressed and should only be used in life-threatening situations. The PLB1 has a self-test.
Detailed information about Ocean Signal PLB1 Personal Locator Beacon can be found on Ocean Signal’s PLB1 website.
Om gebruik te kunnen maken van het systeem is het noodzakelijk dat de PLB geregistreerd wordt. Voor het gebruik van een PLB heb je geen bedieningscertificaat nodig, wel een vergunning. Die vraag je aan bij Agentschap Telecom (ga naar het aanvraagformulier). Hier zijn jaarlijks kosten aan verbonden, in 2020 € 34,00 per vergunning (er mogen meerdere PLB’s op 1 vergunning staan).
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