NOAA urges emergency beacon owners to check their registration information before heading out

NOAA satellites have aided in 97 land and sea rescues so far this year

June 11, 2012

Personal Locator Beacons

Personal Locator Beacons.

Download here. (Credit: NOAA.)

As warming temperatures continue to lure more boaters, campers and hikers to the great outdoors this summer, NOAA satellites are ready to capture distress signals from emergency beacons.

Additionally, officials with NOAA’s Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System (COSPAS-SARSAT) are urging beacon owners to review the registration and identification numbers for their devices before their excursions.

"It’s critical for beacon owners to check this information and make sure their phone numbers and an emergency point of contact are included, so first responders can act without delay,” said Chris O’Connors, NOAA’s SARSAT program manager.

By law, all emergency locator beacons must be registered with NOAA. To register or update a registration, visit

O’Connors added that beacon owners planning a trip can provide their itinerary in the additional data field of the registration information. “Having this knowledge is invaluable for rescuers and can drastically cut down the time it takes to save a life.”

SARSAT is a high-tech system that uses a network of satellites to quickly detect and locate distress signals from emergency beacons onboard aircraft, boats and from handheld personal locator beacons.  When a satellite pinpoints a distress signal within the United States, or its surrounding waters, the information is relayed to the SARSAT Mission Control Center, at NOAA’s Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md. The information is then sent to a Rescue Coordination Center, operated by either the U.S. Air Force, for land rescues, or the U.S. Coast Guard, for maritime rescues.

Now in its 30th year of operation, SARSAT has been credited with more than 30,000 rescues worldwide, including more than 6,830 in the United States and its surrounding waters.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook , Twitter and our other social media channels.