There are three criteria to be balanced in my thinking on the situation of when and if to activate a call for help to a rescue service:
Do you have the skills and training to extract yourself safely from the current situation? Equally important is your assessment of what other means of communications are likely to be available in the timeframe your current ...
They're not very easy to activate. Here's a video showing how to activate the one I own. It's a multi-step process. You have to flip up a tab (which I think involves cracking a thin plastic connection), use the tab to pull off the cover, unfurl the antenna, and then press the on button, which is hidden until you get the cover off.
Anyway, I did find a ...
Taking each one in turn:
If the trailhead is several hours away you're not feasibly going to be able to get there on your own with broken bones, and may seriously injure yourself further doing so.
Several hours away normally could turn into a lot longer if you're bitten by a rattlesnake, and again by attempting the hike rather than resting you're going to ...
If you aren't equipped to handle a situation where you can't drive out as expected, then you don't belong there. Conversely, if you go to such places and situations, you should take enough stuff with you to be able to survive and possibly get out on your own.
A tree falling across the road is only one of several things that aren't too ridiculously ...
This is actually a fairly standard warning message for U.S. Government systems. It dates back to a 1986 law (Public Law 99-474) and a time when it was considered necessary to display such warnings in order for computer crime prosecutions to be successful. (Otherwise a person might argue they didn't know they were trespassing, or something along those lines....
All of your situations look like emergencies, especially if you are alone. I read an article where the National Park Service was angry at use of PLBs because someone climbed a mountain and did not want to down-climb, or they were "tired" but seemed to not have nay other condition that would negatively affect their ability to walk out of the wilderness, or ...
I assume here that you are traveling by car.
Make sure you carry a survival package so you can survive for at least a night.
As for the tree situation, carry a large towing strap and invest in a (chain) saw appropriate for the size of trees in the area. This way you should be able to chop the tree in a few pieces and pull them to the side of the road ...
The first thing you need to answer this question is to know who will be responding when your beacon goes off. The beacon manufacturer should be able to provide you with this information. Then you can find out what their policies are in regards to false alarms. The responsder may vary depending on where you are traveling. Often, the very first response is to ...
According to this article on Walk Highlands, from December 2011:
Hillwalkers and climbers will be able to legally carry Personal
Locator Beacons (PLBs) from 12 January following a change in UK
regulations. Previously the devices, which send out a distress signal
identifying the user’s exact location when activated, could only be
licensed for use ...
Here is how I would evaluate it.
Are there any immediate life threats?
Are you unable to safely move yourself to a place where you can be rescued, faster than help would arrive with a PLB activation?
Are you unable to manage or stop the life threats on your own?
If the answer to those questions is yes, then I would activate the PLB.
I would define "life ...
In Australia, you are advised to call the Rescue Coordination Centre on 1800 641 792 if possible to ensure a search and rescue operation is not commenced.
The PLB is very much for highlighting to the emergency services that you are in an emergency situation and need a rescue. It can incur significant costs as the services are called out but gives a fairly accurate location so the search is short.
One of your challenges here is that you may not know it is you they are looking for. Potentially the helicopters ...
The Wikipedia article has a lot of detail: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distress_radiobeacon.
There's no fee. In the USA, the response comes from government agencies such as the Coast Guard.
It does need to be registered, but registration is free and easy online.
If you use it when there's not an emergency, you could be fined.
TLDR: You can be irresponsible with or without a PLB
The most basic principle of responsibility in the wilderness is that
YOU are ultimately responsible for your own safety.
With that being the case there are few things more irresponsible than than the idea that you can take risks, and if anything goes wrong, you will simply push a big button and Search ...
Almost always the victim gets the bill, but as mentioned in commentary, it depends on locality and sometimes fault. Local rules always apply.
As an example, in the US, some state authorities will assume the rescue costs except in cases of negligence of the victim. This is true even if the victim did not seek help - and this is one reason help is sometimes ...
TL/DR: There's really no argument - just carry a PLB for any non-trivial trip!
This is a question I've discussed with the leaders of SAR teams. They are unanimous that responsible use of a PLB makes life much safer and easier for both you and the rescue team. They encourage all parties to carry them, and particularly solo walkers.
I would argue that for ...
If you are overdue, and the search party know you have a PLB, the fact that they have not received an alert from it suggests either
you are merely delayed, and will turn up soon, or
you are so incapacitated that you could not use the beacon (probably already dead - sorry!)
However, if you activate the PLB, the level of concern will likely increase - you've ...
No, you can't rent that kind of equipment at a Park Service ranger station. They only rent out bear canisters, and even that is only at certain locations (e.g., Yosemite Valley). If you want a Spot or a PLB, you just need to buy one.
In 2003, the International Maritime Organisation stated in 2003 that fewer than 1 in 20 alerts related to persons genuinely in distress:
1.4 False alerts in the IAMSAR Manual are defined as: Any alert received by the SAR system indicating an actual or potential distress
situation, when no such situation actually exists.
1.5 Due to an increasing ...
The call would be routed to the international COSPAS-SARSAT network.
Here are the Beacon Regulations Handbooks for each country: http://www.cospas-sarsat.int/en/documents-pro/beacon-regulations-handbook
They have an INCOMPLETE and somewhat contradictory summary of countries: http://www.cospas-sarsat.int/en/beacon-ownership/national-beacon-regulations-for-...
A SPOT will only work if you can see the sky. If you're in a deep canyon where there's not simultaneous line of sight to enough GPS satellites, it won't work. PLB's these days all include GPS, but GPS isn't needed in order to make the device work.
There seems to be some anecdotal evidence in real-world use that SPOTs are extremely unreliable: http://www....
I think your criteria are all good, in that you should choose one that is suitable for the environments you will be adventuring in, but price is almost irrelevant, and unless you are hiking really long distances weight wouldn't worry me.
For me, critical features would include:
signal range and coverage
I used a Garmin InReach Mini for a 19 day trip down the Grand Canyon this past January. I checked in once a day to say "I'm ok" like you had planned to. I recharged mine about 14 days in since the battery was probably around 20%. It probably would have lasted the whole trip, but it was shockingly cutting it close. I didn't use tracking, had low brightness, ...
According to Garmin, with a 30-minute tracking interval and extended tracking mode, the battery should last for 20 days. Turn the screen brightness down and turn it off every single night when you are in camp to further extend the battery life.
On the other hand, the inReach mini battery is 1,250 mAh, one 10,000 mAh battery should provide at least 4 charges ...