Coast Guard reminds mariners, beach goers be safe during upcoming storms

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SAN FRANCISCO – The Coast Guard urges members of the public to exercise safe and responsible boating practices during the upcoming heavy weather forecasted this weekend.

Strong southerly winds, heavy rain and occasional thunder storms are expected to hit Northern California Saturday evening and continue through Sunday morning. These conditions will pose extreme risks for mariners and dangerous conditions for beach goers. The Coast Guard strongly recommends boaters refrain from getting underway and for people to avoid going near beaches or other low lying coastal areas, especially jetties and rocky areas. Large waves can quickly and unexpectedly sweep a person from these areas.

If it is necessary to get underway, mariners are urged to check all of their safety equipment to ensure it is in good working condition. There should be a flotation device onboard for each person and if traveling off shore, it is strongly recommended that there be an immersion suit or other full body protection. Water temperatures will be cold, and hypothermia can quickly overtake the average person.

Weather and wave forecasts should be checked prior to getting underway. Listen to the NOAA Weather Radio or go to http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/mtr for the latest updates.  Wave forecasts can also be found at http://www.dbw.ca.gov.

Boaters should file float plans with friends or family on land, with an approximate time of return and a location to, which you will be heading. Regular check-ins can quickly alert those who are aware of your plan should anything change.

Vessel owners and operators are also encouraged to check the status of mooring and anchoring arrangements.  During strong winds and heavy seas, vessels can break free from moorings and pose severe hazards to nearby people and vessels as they are tossed about. Adrift vessels can also pose environmental risks because fluids or chemicals aboard can spill or leak. Vessel owners and operators are urged to take extra precautions in anticipation of the forecasted storm system by addressing mooring safety and securing potential sources of marine pollution.

Check the U.S. Coast Guard Storm Center for more information: www.uscg.mil/news/stormcenter

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