Personal Distress Beacon: Stay Safe on Your Next Outdoor Adventure


Is there a better way to de-stress from spending some time in nature? Feeling the gentle breeze graze your skin as you’re basking in the sunlight. Nothing compares to it. After all, it’s a great way to escape your busy schedule and get some much-needed rest. So it’s not surprising at all that you’re eager to get going.

Most of the time, such preparations are centred on packing essentials to make your outdoor adventure more enjoyable. But you know what else you need to be prepared for? The worst-case scenario – getting lost in the wilderness. Sure, sometimes you’re more than capable of finding your way back but what if things get more complicated than you’d anticipated? Luckily for you, and for all of us really, there’s a device that can help you figure it out – a portable locator beacon. Even if you’ve never used one before, we’ll get you up to speed on all the information you’ll need for a safe outing in nature.

What is a Personal Locator Beacon Used For?

To put it simply, a PLB is a small, compact device that is used to alert nearby authorities or rescuers when there’s a potentially life-threatening situation in a remote area. Most people buy one in the hopes they’ll only use it as a last resort or not use it at all. Either way, it’s good to have a backup plan in case everything else fails. Whenever you require urgent assistance and are unable to reach emergency services due to the lack of signal, having a PLB can help you get in touch. Whether you’re a hiker lost in the woods or a skier caught in a landslide, you’ll have a better chance at getting assistance when you have a personal location device.


How Does a Personal Locator Beacon Work?

Before you activate your device, you should head towards an open area and go as high up as you can to get a good signal. Next, you need to extend the antenna and send out an S.O.S signal. The signal, which is globally recognized, is transmitted through a 406 MHz signal to the satellite-based search and rescue. Once it’s reached the satellites, the signal is bounced back to the nearest rescue centre for an appropriate response. And all of this happens in a matter of minutes. Pretty impressive, right?

Bear in mind that this is a one-way distress signal so when you press a button to send it, it can’t be unsent. So be careful of how and when you use your locator beacon. Another important thing to keep in mind is that sometimes a PLB might not work right or there’s a lag in signal transmission. In other words, don’t start panicking if there’s no emergency team at the scene right away, there could be some interference with the signal. Once it breaks through though, someone will come and assist you shortly.

How Long Does a Personal Locator Beacon Last?

While personal locator beacons don’t really have an expiration date, their batteries do. They can last anywhere between 24 and 35 hours while in operational mode. However, your device’s battery life in standby mode can last up to a whopping 5 years. Make sure to check the relevant documentation that comes along with your PLB for additional information.


How Do You Choose a Personal Locator Beacon?

Naturally, the choice of PLB isn’t as easy and straightforward as you’d expect it to be but that’s no cause for immediate concern. In fact, there are a few key considerations that can help you make the right decision.

Registration Eligibility

While the transmitted signal is recognized worldwide, you need to make sure that your particular model is eligible to be registered with the relevant organization in your area. Registration is cost-free and all of your data is completely safe. When you register, you’ll be given a unique identification number which will be sent out to satellites when you send out the S.O.S.

LED Strobe

When you’ve sent out a distress signal, you should do everything in your power to make it easier for emergency services to find you. Luckily, some PLB models come with integrated LED strobe lights that are supposed to attract their attention. If you’re in an area with limited visibility, you can use a whistle to guide rescuers to your location. In situations where time is of the essence, these little details can make a world of a difference.


Benefits of Having a Locator Beacon

Obviously, the major benefit here is the fact that it helps save your life. But there are a few other ways you can benefit from having a personal locating device.

Constant Communication with Others

While most people consider escaping in nature as a form of disconnecting with others, you definitely shouldn’t cut off all forms of communication. Sure, you’re probably more than capable to handle yourself in most situations but you should know when you’re in well over your head.

Compact and Easy to Carry

When you’re out hiking, there’s a plethora of tools and equipment you need to take with you to ensure a successful trip. Carrying another heavy and bulky device is probably the last thing you want. Fortunately, personal locator beacons are quite small and convenient so you don’t take up too much space. Having an additional safety device won’t make the whole experience any less enjoyable.