Running into problems at sea can be deadly. When catastrophic failure strikes and your boat is sinking fast, there is not always time to think, let alone act. Ideally you will manage to radio a mayday and put on lifesaving gear, but sadly there are no guarantees, and many families have been faced with overdue boaters that never come home.

As Coast Guard and private searches can be futile in our vast oceans, it is imperative that we take steps to safeguard ourselves at sea. Each time a search is conducted, a term that is heard is EPIRB, which stands for emergency position-indicating radio beacon. The device acts by sending a distress signal, which allows your location of crisis to be known. Although an EPIRB sounds like a must-have, the fact of the matter is that many people don’t chose to make the $800 purchase.

To ease the burden of EPIRB cost, however, Florida House Bill CS-CS-HB 427 comes into play. This EPIRB law went into effect recently and while it does not make having an EPIRB mandatory on vessels, it offers the incentive of lower registration fees for vessels equipped with one.

“The EPIRB is the most important tool you can have to take the search out of search and rescue for us,” said U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Michael De Nyse. “That’s how we can find you, that’s your positioning of distress that we can pinpoint.”

In boating accident scenarios, it is not always clear the exact type of tragedy or the manner in which it struck, but the constant that remains the same is a far too frequent unfortunate loss of life. By adding an EPIRB to your vessel, you give yourself and those boating with you a better chance to always come back alive.

Image by Gina Sanders

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