The outdoor gadget that could save your life

Doug Williams
 
Public Domain
Public Domain

A couple of times a year, television and the internet tells an epic tale about a person who chose to wander through the wild to unwind and clear their minds.

 

Sadly, these stories often show how the person became powerless after a devastating wound or venturing into an unmarked land without any plan of finding his or her way home. This may make exploring the world sound a little scary, but the truth is that almost every bad story could have ended very differently if they had a handy little gadget that’s the size of your iphone. This nifty tool is called a Personal Locator Beacon, and it’s also known as a P.L.B.

The easy to utilize electronic tool allows the owner to enable a distress signal from practically any place in the world by using its powerful transmitter. This can be done quickly and easily by holding two switches that turn, that sends out an S.O.S. for rescuers to retrieve and save the users life in times of great danger and trouble. The coolest part about P.L.B.s is that they are pretty cheap compared to the dangers that can lie ahead in the wild. If the time ever comes that the transmitter is needed, it will be worth 1,000 times its weight in gold. So instead of risking a traumatizing stroll through the woods, check out the different styles of P.L.B.s so you can explore the world with peace of mind.

Types of Personal Locator Beacons

There are two different styles of P.L.Bs out there and the mighty businesses of Garmin, McMurdo and ACR have invested in making these handy devices that will save an adventurer’s life. The first style of P.L.B. is very simplistic. It sends out a save our soul transmission that has to be tracked down making it effective, it does tend to take more time to be rescued. The other style of electronic distress transmission sends out the exact coordinates of the device embedded inside of the call for help.

These devices are so useful because they use a standard frequency that is accepted as an S.O.S worldwide. The distress signal is sent out at 406 MegaHertz which is sent out to rescue systems as well as military personal and private aircraft. The cool part is the signal also sends a G.P.S for at a different frequency of 121.5 MegaHertz which supplies rescuers with an exact location to find someone in need. That is a huge advantage to have in the wild, so it’s widely accepted to purchase the P.L.B. that can send out a G.P.S. transmission to help the rescue team find you almost immediately. Within 60 minutes, your location is processed through a satellite and then your location is passed along to a group that is designed to help you most effectively.

Every Personal Locator Beacon has a “Hex Code” that identifies each P.L.B. to be unique. Due to the growing number of accidental S.O.S. calls, you’re required to register your beacon so they can identify the person sending the distress signal. In order to own a P.L.B., you need to submit your name, number and permission to access you to ensure the case of an emergency as well as a description allowing rescuers to find the lost explorers.

As a fair warning, dense forests or mountains can make for a difficult recovery mission, but if you bring a whistle just in case, you find yourself in a difficult to find a spot like under rocks or buried for warmth. While the Personal Locator Beams send out G.P.S. coordinates, they are only accurate within 150 feet leaving little room for chance in times of peril. So when the time comes that rescuers make it to the scene, make like Rose from Titanic and pump that whistle with a chirping pace.

Where to Purchase a Personal Locator Beacon

These emergency gadgets have some pretty cool technology, and they’re pretty useful so it’s thought that these puppies would cost a fortune to own. Luckily, though, the prices for a solid P.L.B. range from $300 to $550. Another cool feature for these devices boil down to the fact that they can function after being flooded with water, they are shockproof, and the transmitter is built into to the gadget leaving Personal Locator Beacon’s insanely durable even in an outdoor setting.

They also feature a trial run so you can check out your energy levels and make sure the P.L.B. is working soundly. These gadgets last about half a decade and can survive in conditions to 20 degrees below freezing and up to a scorching 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Probably the coolest part about these life savers is that they are easy to activate and are transmitted to a satellite in the surrounding area only after a minute to allow deactivation. But be careful with your new tool because it’s not a toy. A large number of accidental distress signals have been rising over the past couple years as more and more travelers start using P.L.B.s.

All of these features make up for a reliable device and is a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. Even though most people feel like they’ll never get lost, dangerous things can happen to anyone while they are out in the wild. Even seasoned explorers find themselves facing emergencies, and the slightest mishap can put anyone’s life on the line.

These little and light devices are the traveler’s perfect insurance to ease his or her mind when they set foot into the wild. 99.9% of trips go as planned, but when the going gets rough, it’s always good to have a friend to call when cell phones are inactive. If you ever need to use a P.L.B., you’ll thank the heavens for the invention of this fancy little technology and your family will rejoice you invested in an emergency kit. There is no comparison to when peril strikes your loved ones so everyone should be happy to add this to their outdoor arsenal.

 

 
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