First, determine the EPIRB bracket type that is right for you. The Category I bracket is designed to release an EPIRB when the Hydrostatic Release Unit (HRU) in the bracket is submerged in water to a depth of 4 to 14 feet. In an emergency, the EPIRB will release from its bracket, float to the surface and alert Search and Rescue that you need help fast. Category I brackets keep the EPIRB unit protected from Mother Nature and provide the peace of mind of knowing the EPIRB will release from the bracket automatically if the boat should sink.
EPIRBs in a Category II bracket need to be manually deployed and activated. They can be mounted above or below deck, in a location that is protected from outside influences (i.e. green water, traffic impacts, cabin doors, etc.). Some people prefer to keep their beacon in a RapidDitchTM Abandon Ship Bag without the bracket, which is OK if the bag is going to be in a dry spot on the boat. A Category II bracket lets you keep your EPIRB close at hand so you can easily grab it in an emergency.
ACR also offers several different levels of EPIRB model, giving purchasers options. Budget-minded buyers may want to choose the base model, the Satellite 3 406 with optional GPS Interface. ACR rates that model as “Good”, and the GlobalFix PRO, which features Internal GPS, as “Better”. The company’s “Best” unit is the GlobalFix iPRO with Internal GPS and Digital Display.
ACR also recommends boaters consider purchasing a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) as a backup for their boat and a primary safety beacon for themselves when on deck alone.
But the main “tip” in ACR’s Boater’s Guide to EPIRBs is a reminder that an EPIRB can’t help you get rescued if you don’t register it first. You are required to register your EPIRB with your local authority. If you change any information on your registration (such as phone number, address, bought a new boat, etc.) you MUST update the 406 MHz beacon registration. Also, if you sell your 406 MHz beacon, notify your local government that you have done so, and make sure the buyer registers the beacon personally. Otherwise, you may be contacted by rescue authorities if it is activated! Please provide the new owner a link to ACR’s registration web page so he/she can register their beacon.