Test An Epirb

The emergency services will locate you more easily if the EPIRB is functioning correctly.

The EPIRB, short for Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon, is a device that, when activated, sends a signal to a satellite indicating the location, usually of a boat that is in extreme distress. The information is passed on to the nearest Coast Guard, who will take the appropriate action. This makes the EPIRB a vital piece of safety equipment, especially for those sailing long distances. As such, owners should test their EPIRBs monthly to ensure they will function when required.


1. Check the battery expiry date. EPIRB batteries normally last for five years and should be replaced on or before the expiry date. If the EPIRB is deployed in an emergency, the battery should be replaced immediately.

2. Operate the EPIRB’s test switch. A light will indicate that the EPIRB’s test circuits are functioning. Depending on the model, testing may also activate the strobe light. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Coast Guard recommend that operators run the self test for no longer than two flashes of the strobe light or one minute after the first self-test mode burst transmission.

3. Record the test in your vessel’s log. Logging EPIRB tests is a legal requirement in compulsory vessels, but it is also good practice in pleasure craft as you can see at a glance what maintenance you need to carry out. This applies to any maintenance work you undertake on your boat such as engine servicing, sail valeting and checking the fire extinguisher.

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