PLBs are portable units designed for land based activities such as hiking, camping, climbing and canoeing. PLBs can only be activated manually. Some newer 406 MHz PLBs include an integrated GPS capability, which allows GPS position data to be included in the distress signal message.
A PLB must only be activated in a distress situation and only in remote areas where conventional communication facilities are not available. A distress situation is defined as an incident where there is grave danger to the safety of human life.
Who needs a PLB
Although there is no legal requirement to carry a PLB, it is strongly encouraged that people who undertake land based activities, in areas where there is no cellular phone coverage or other means of communications, purchase or rent a PLB.
What PLBs are approved for use in Canada
The radio standards specification for PLBs is available in RSS-287. National Search and Rescue Secretariat's Performance Standard for 406 MHz PLBs can found in NSS-PLB 06.
ACR GyPSI PLB-100
MPR TELTECH LTD/NAT INC SATFIND-406 POCKET PLB
ACR TERRAFIX/AEROFIX/AQUAFIX PLB-200 W/GPS
ACR TERRAFIX/AEROFIX/AQUAFIX PLB-201
ACR RESQFIX/MICROFIX PLB-300 W/GPS
ACR AquaLink PLB-350B
ACR AquaLink View PLB-350C
PLB-375 ResQLink+ (Category 1 – Floating), ACR 2881
PLB-375 ResQLink (Category 2 – Non-Floating), ACR 2880
McMurdo Ltd. FASTFIND PLB-200
McMurdo Ltd. FASTFIND PLB-210
Where to buy a PLB
A number of sports outfitters in Canada sell or rent PLBs. It is important to ensure that the 406 MHz PLB is coded for use in Canada.
Registering your PLB
PLB owners are strongly encouraged to register their PLB with the Canadian Beacon Registry. The information contained in the registry includes the owner's name, trip details and emergency contact information. Search and rescue authorities cross-reference the emergency beacon ID with the registry and with a single phone call can determine if the distress signal is a false alert or can collect additional details in order to better respond to the incident.
Disposal of your PLB
At the end of a PLB's useful life, it is vital that it be disposed of safely. Information about the proper disposal of emergency beacons can be found here.