Coast Guard cautions mariners in Florida Straits to be ready for Hurricane Irma

MIAMI – As Hurricane Irma continues to develop in the Atlantic Ocean, Coast Guard officials in Miami and Key West, are encouraging the maritime community and boating public to monitor its progress and make early preparations to protect themselves and their vessels.

Securing vessels prior to landfall of a hurricane is one of the first steps to prepare. It is also important to update your Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) registration prior to a major storm. These devices often float free from vessels in marinas or at docks during hurricanes and signal a distress when there is none.

Mariners should take precautions to ensure their personal safety should a storm or hurricane approach. High seas, heavy rains and damaging winds that often accompany tropical depressions, storms and hurricanes present serious dangers to boaters out on the water. Often times the Coast Guard has to reposition assets or personnel prior to a storm for their safety which can limit response both during and in the immediate aftermath of a major storm. The public is encouraged to follow the same preparations.

Adverse weather effects generated by a depression, storm or hurricane can cover an area hundreds of miles wide. Even those recreational boaters and the maritime industry that fall outside of the direct path of the storm are advised to be aware of weather conditions and take appropriate precautions to stay safe and minimize damage.

Here are a few tips to help mariners protect themselves, their families and their vessels:

• Do not go out to sea in a recreational boat if a tropical storm or hurricane is approaching.

• Contact local marinas to ask for advice about securing your vessel. Marina operators are knowledgeable and can advise you on the best methods for securing your boat. Information on how to prepare your boat or trailer for a hurricane can be found at the Coast Guard’s Storm Center webpage. https://www.uscg.mil/news/stormcenter/.

• Take action now. The effects of a tropical storm/hurricane can be felt well in advance of the storm itself and can prevent the safe completion of preparations.

• Check with local authorities before entering any storm-damaged area. Do not rush to your boat. Boaters should not place themselves in danger to get to a boat.

• Do not try to reach your boat if it has been forced into the water and is surrounded by debris. Wait until authorities have made safe access available. Do not try to board a partially sunken boat; seek salvage assistance from a professional.

• Storms move quickly and are unpredictable. You can always replace a boat; you cannot replace a life.

Information on how to prepare your boat or trailer for a hurricane can be found at the Coast Guard’s Storm Center webpage: https://www.uscg.mil/news/stormcenter/.

The Coast Guard requests that the public not call Coast Guard facilities for weather information, but to listen to weather broadcasts. Important storm information can also be viewed at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.

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