Prevent False Alerts

Note: if you have accidentally activated your beacon but do not need assistance, please contact the appropriate RCC right now (day or night) to cancel the search efforts. For ELT’s and PLB’s, contact the Air Force RCC at 1-800-851-3051. For EPIRB’s, contact the U.S. Coast Guard  at 1-855-406-USCG (8724).

Only You Can

OK, so we weren't the first ones to come up with this slogan, but what Smokey says about forest fires also applies to EPIRB’s, ELT’s and PLB’s. The vast majority of false alerts generated within the Cospas-Sarsat system originate from beacon users. This is by no means to suggest that most mariners, aviators and other beacon users are careless. In fact, most of these folks are meticulous and conscientious. The false alert problem arises from a lack of knowledge. The solution lies in educating users about the negative effect of false alerts on the system and how to prevent them.

The following are some suggestions on how you (yes, you) can prevent false alerts. By doing so, you will increase the effectiveness of the very system your life may someday rely on! We can not stress the importance of this enough. Responding to the false alerts can cause large delays in responding to real emergencies. Unnecessary deployments also put the lives of search and rescue personnel at risk. Although Cospas-Sarsat is a high-tech, automated system, large volumes of false alerts can cost valuable minutes to people in real distress. Every little bit does help! So please, read the recommendations below and follow them. Above all, use common sense.


FOR 406 MHz ELT’s (aviation):

FOR 406 MHz EPIRB’s (maritime):

The bottom line is this: as with any piece of safety gear, it's only as good as the person operating it. Spend some time to familiarize yourself with your ELT, EPIRB or PLB. Ask yourself if and how it will work in a real situation, and know how to use it. Finally, know how to prevent false alerts and actively do so. Your efforts are certainly appreciated by us at NOAA and especially by those in distress!