Coast Guard cautions boaters and beachgoers for upcoming heavy weather

SEATTLE — The Coast Guard warns boaters and beachgoers to exercise caution on coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest this upcoming weekend due to high winds, coastal area flooding, cold temperatures and snow.

The National Weather Service – http://www.noaa.gov/ – has posted hazardous weather outlooks throughout the Pacific Northwest to include gale force wind warnings, small craft advisories and high surf advisories. The boating public is strongly encouraged to pay close attention to local weather and river bar forecasts before leaving port.

The Coast Guard reminds boaters it is dangerous to fish during high surf conditions.

In addition, marinas and boaters are reminded to check that boats in port are properly secured, bilge pumps are functional, and all loose items are removed from decks. Report any boats adrift, pollution or other maritime emergencies to the National Response Center at (800) 424-8802 or your local Coast Guard unit.

Here are some tips for those who choose to go out on the water during the upcoming heavy weather:

* – Leave a float plan with a responsible individual who knows your intentions, location and who they should call if you do not return as scheduled.

* – Wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket and set the example for your passengers or paddling partners.

* – Carry a marine VHF radio and other reliable means of communication.

* – Be prepared for the shock of sudden immersion and the disabling effects of cold water. Plan for the worst: dress as though you are going to get wet and be cold.

* – Maintain awareness on the water – be aware of activity around your vessel including changing weather, and always know your location.

* – Be responsible – Know that alcohol and drugs cause accidents and sometimes death.

* – Don’t boat alone – Boating alone is not recommended. Recreational canoeists and kayakers often travel with a single canoe and one partner, or even solo, but it is recommended you canoe, kayak or boat with at least three people or two craft.

* – Know your limitations – Be honest with yourself and your companions. Your life and the lives of those in your party may depend on how everyone understands each other’s capabilities.

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