Coastguard urges boat owners to carry distress beacons in wake of Kilmore tragedy

By David Tucker

Published 08/09/2015 | 00:00

An EPIRB: one of the distress beacons recommended by the Coast Guard.
An EPIRB: one of the distress beacons recommended by the Coast Guard.

THE Coast Guard is advising anyone putting to sea in a small boat to take distress beacons with them which can be activated in an emergency.

Reacting to last week's tragedy off Kilmore Quay in which 73-year-old British visitor Francis Smith was drowned, the Coast Guard said it was very sorry to hear about his death, but nine people survived because they wore lifejackets.

'All the crew wore lifejackets which undoubtedly saved their lives, but if a simple float-free EPIRB was carried or someone had worn a PLB and/or if the boat had logged a report with the local CG radio or even logged a simple free report on SafeTrx perhaps the final life may have had a better chance of being saved. RIP.'

It asked anyone going to sea in small boats to take these simple precautions.

'Any loss of life is one too many.'

Those on board the boat Jillian which capsized off the Saltee Islands were carrying mobile phones which were made useless when they went into the water. The boat was also equipped with a VHF radio which suffered a similar fate.

An EPIRB is an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon which is used to alert search and rescue services in the event of an emergency.It does this by transmitting a coded message on the 406 MHz distress frequency via satellite and earth stations to the nearest rescue co-ordination centre.

Personal Location Beacons (PLBs) work in exactly the same way as EPIRBs by sending a coded message on the 406 MHz distress frequency which is relayed via the Cospas-Sarsat global satellite system.

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