Appeal over safe use of locator devices

 

The Irish Coast Guard has issued an appeal to sailors and people who might fly aircraft about the safe handling of modern emergency locator equipment.

This follows an incident in which a badly stored aircraft emergency beacon sparked a massive search operation involving two helicopters and ground crews amid fears that a small aircraft had crashed.

The alarm was raised on Wednesday night when a signal from an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) was detected by the Irish Coast Guard station at Valentia Island in Kerry and air-traffic control at Shannon.

At about 2pm yesterday, ground teams located the activated beacon at the rear of a property.

At the scene, a second beacon activated and emitted orange smoke, which is a feature of some devices.

An Irish Coast Guard spokesman said: “We would ask anyone who who has one of

these devices to ensure it is properly stored and not allowed to decay. If the battery in one of these units dies or the device is allowed to short-circuit because of dampness, the ELT will activate.

“We would issue the same warning to boat owners if they are removing their vessels from the water for the winter. These units should be stored in a cool, dry place and their batteries should not be allowed to drain,” the spokesman added.