Coast Guard urges boating safety as Southern California prepares for gale conditions

SAN PEDRO, Calif. – The Coast Guard cautions members of the public in coastal locations around southern California this week to be aware of inclement and rapidly changing weather conditions, including the possibility of gale force winds. Small craft advisories and gale warnings remain in effect in the region throughout the week.

Small craft advisories are issued in response to expected wind and wave conditions that can be hazardous to smaller vessels. Inexperienced mariners, especially those operating smaller vessels, should avoid getting underway in these conditions.

A gale warning means that winds of 34 to 47 knots are imminent or occurring. Operating a vessel in gale conditions requires experience and a properly equipped vessel. It is highly recommended that mariners without the proper experience seek safe refuge prior to the onset of gale conditions. Boaters who plan on venturing out should take extra precautions to ensure their own safety.

Vessel operators should check current and forecasted weather conditions prior to getting underway, and remain aware of changing conditions once on the water. The Coast Guard and the National Weather Service broadcast marine weather forecasts regularly. Forecasts can be heard by tuning a marine-band VHF radio to channels WX-1 through WX-7 or to channel 22A during scheduled Coast Guard marine information broadcasts. Further information can be found at the National Weather Service website: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/.

The Coast Guard encourages vessel operators to maintain navigation and safety equipment in proper working condition. Wear a life jacket, file a float plan with a friend or family member, have a working marine-band VHF radio, electronic position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), and flares on board. In an emergency, these simple steps can save your life and the lives of your passengers and crew.

Additional information regarding safe boating practices can be found by visiting the Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety at: http://www.uscgboating.org/.

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