Coast Guard urges use of emergency position indicating radio beacons

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska The Coast Guard is asking boaters in Alaska to educate themselves on the use of 'emergency position indicating radio beacons', or E-PIRB, in hopes of reducing the number of false distress alerts.

BALTIMORE - An emergency position indicating radio beacon is held in front of a 25-foot Response Boat-Small moored in front of Coast Guard Station Curtis Bay, Md., Dec. 9, 2010. When activated, a properly registered EPIRB sends an electronic signal that will notify the Coast Guard of a distress situation. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert Brazzell.

An E-PIRB transmits a distress signal to Coast Guard and emergency responders that initiates costly search and rescue efforts.

The Federal Communications Commission requires all owners to register their beacons with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

If the Coast Guard receives an E-PIRB alert and can't trace it to the owner, they launch aircraft and boat crews to search the area for signs of distress.

The coast guard states that since October 1st 2018, there have been 16 confirmed false alerts for distress beacons that cost the taxpayers approximately $353,108 dollars.

If an unregistered beacon sends a signal, the FCC can prosecute the owner -- issuing a warning letter, or assessing fines up to $10,000.