Coast Guard implores mariners, beachgoers to prepare for Hurricane Bill

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Coast Guard implores boaters and beachgoers to heed safety warnings as Hurricane Bill passes along the Atlantic Coast this weekend.

“If your going to the waterfront, heed the warnings,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Brian Avelsgard, the command duty officer at the Coast Guard’s Fifth District Command Center. He also warned boaters, “pay attention to the weather. Let people know where you are going, when you are going to be back, how to get in touch with you and have a properly registered 406 EPIRB.”

The National Weather Service forecast for Hurricane Bill calls for sustained winds of 115 mph. According to a NWS forcast Friday morning, “large swells generated by this hurricane will affect a large portion of the western north atlantic coastal area during the next few days. These swells will likely cause extremely dangerous surf and life-threatening rip currents.”

Large waves can be generated by a storm of this size and capsize a boat.

As Bill approaches, the Coast Guard urges people to be mindful of the following safety tips:

  • Stay Informed: The public should monitor the progress and strength of Bill through local television, radio and Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF channel 16. Information on small craft advisories and warnings can also be found on VHF channel 16.
  • Evacuate as Necessary: If mandatory evacuations are set for an area, the public is urged to heed evacuation orders. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate those in danger during the storm.
  • Secure your Belongings: Vessel owners are urged to double check their mooring lines and secure life rings, life jackets and other loose items, preventing their vessel and equipment from breaking free and causing damage.
  • Be Cautious of Hazardous Materials: If you have hazardous materials on or near the water you are responsible for any spills that may occur. Take the necessary precautions to secure them prior to any foul weather.
  • Stay Clear of Beaches: Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by Bill. Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe.
  • Drawbridge Times Vary: Mariners are reminded that drawbridges along the coast may deviate from normal operating procedures prior to a storm. They are generally authorized to remain closed up to eight hours prior to the approach of gale force winds of 34 knots or greater, and whenever an evacuation is ordered.

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