When can I purchase and start using a PLB?
PLBs have been authorized for use since July 1, 2003. U.S. residents are now able to purchase, register, and use your PLB anywhere in the United States.
Where are Personal Locator Beacons being sold?
Personal Locator Beacons are being sold in various outdoor supply stores, boating supply stores, electronics stores, and thru online and catalog distributors.
What companies manufacture Personal Locator Beacons for use in the United States?
The following companies are selling PLBs or are expected to very shortly.
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How much will they cost?
The PLBs will cost approximately $300 - $800, depending on the model and the manufacturer.
What is to stop a person from having a flat tire and then using the PLB to seek help?
Unfortunately, nothing. If a person feels that they are in distress, there is nothing to prevent them from activating their PLB. However, the users should be aware that the individuals responding to their distress alert will be a dedicated rescue response and not an auto mechanic. As such, the user should rely on an emergency roadside assistance service to provide them the correct response. As well, the user should be aware that he/she is wasting valuable rescue resources that may also be pulling the team away from a legitimate distress.
NOAA therefore encourages all PLB users to be acutely aware of the responsibility that comes with owning this device. PLBs are a distress alerting tool and they work exceptionally well. PLB users should familiarize themselves with proper testing and operating procedures to mitigate against false activation.
Will there be a penalty for an intentional false alert?
Under federal law, 14USC88, knowingly and willfully transmitting a hoax distress call is a felony. It is punishable by up to six years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and restitution to the rescue agency for all costs incurred responding to the distress.
Have other countries permitted the use of the 406 MHz PLBs?
Several countries have permitted the use of 406 MHz PLBs since their development in the 1990's. Notably this includes many of the European countries, Russia, Canada, and Australia to name a few.
In the United States, PLBs have only been permitted for use in Alaska since 1994 under an experimental program. This experimental program was developed to test the feasibility for PLB usage throughout the rest of the United States. It was in part due to the success of the PLB program in Alaska in which over 250 individuals have been rescued that the FCC granted the authorization of PLBs for use nationwide.
Will I have to register my PLB with NOAA?
Absolutely! All emergency distress beacons - including EPIRBs (used by commerical vessels), ELTs (used by aircraft) and PLBs are required to be registered with NOAA. Register your beacon at our online registration website: http://www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov
For Additional Information Call NOAA/SARSAT at: 1-888-212-SAVE (7283)