Iowa hunters, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds now have a new safety device they can take along wherever they go, to activate if they get into trouble. Personal Locator Beacons, or PLB’s, became operational this month. The gadgets range in size from a large cellular phone to a small thermos according to Dan Carlson, who works with search and rescue teams under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. PLB’s can be used virtually anywhere in the world and have a global coverage allowing a stress alert to go out from that beacon to a constellation of satellites that notify search and rescue operations here in the U.S. The devices have only been around for the general public a matter of days and should be appearing in outdoor stores. Carlson says they aren’t cheap, not right now. They range from 500 to 700 dollars but will likely come down in price with the market demands, like handheld Global Positioning Satellite devices, cell phones and other technologies. Carlson says everyone who buys a PLB will have to provide a batch of registration information — for good reason. When the beacon goes off, officials will use the information to call your home and relatives to see if they can vouch for your whereabouts so a rescue team isn’t unnecessarily sent to get you. For more information, surf to “www.sarsat.noaa.gov”.
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