Maintenance and Storage of PLBs

How to safely maintain and store your PLB

A library is thought in cold storage. Herbert Samuel

Like any electronic equipment, it’s important to look after and maintain your PLB for optimum performance. This includes keeping the unit registered with accurate information on the owner and their emergency contacts, and regularly testing the unit to make sure it is working ok.

Updating and renewing your PLB registration is free and can be done online through the AMSA registration system. Make sure to update your registration with any changes of personal details and emergency contracts as soon as possible. AMSA requires you to renew your PLB registration every two years.

PLBs should be stored:

  • In the hard pouch provided, in a cool, dry place (also refer to the manufacturer’s user manual for instructions);
  • Away from heat, high pressure water sprays, magnetic sources such as large speakers; and
  • Away from children who may think it is a toy.


  • Each PLB comes with a test button, and should be tested according to the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines.
  • The PLB should have enough excess battery life to perform a certain number of tests over the life of the battery.
  • Do not overtest which can drain the battery.

Battery replacement
PLB batteries have a finite life between 5 to 10 years (depending on model), and should be replaced by an authorised servicing agent (see Servicing):

  • Prior to expiry date; and
  • After emergency use.

When and where to service PLBs?
Your PLB needs to be serviced and battery replaced after emergency use. The battery will have depleted and other parts such as the water seal and electrical properties need to be tested.

Only the manufacturer who is identified on the side of the PLB is certified to service your beacon.

If the beacon battery was replaced or serviced by a non-certified service centre then the beacon is non-compliant for carriage requirements and there is a risk the beacon may not function correctly.

Disposal of old PLBs
Do not throw your PLBs in a garbage bin. PLBs can still be inadvertently activated in the rubbish and in tips. PLB batteries contain hazardous materials and post harm to the environment if not disposed of properly.

Every year valuable rescue resources are spent in tracing false alarms sent off by incorrectly disposed beacons, and hence drawn away from real emergencies.

The old system PLBs (121.5MHz/243 MHz Analog Distress Beacon System), and any unwanted PLBs should be disposed of correctly by either:

  • Contacting your local battery store such as Battery World to check whether they disconnect and dispose of beacons. A small fee may apply.
  • Contact your local maritime safety agency. They may be able to provide disposal advice.
  • Check the beacon manufacturer’s instructions, they may provide instructions on how to disconnect the beacon battery. Once disconnected, contact your local waste management facility to ask about disposing of your unwanted beacon in an environmentally friendly way. A small fee may apply.

After disposing of your unwanted beacon please advise the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) by updating your online registration account or by phoning 1800 406 406.