Coast Guard urges caution as Tropical Storm Isaac approaches

Southeastern Coast Guard NewsTAMPA, Fla. — The Coast Guard urges the maritime community to track Tropical Storm Isaac’s progress Thursday and take early action to protect themselves and their vessels.

As Isaac approaches, the Coast Guard urges people to remember these guidelines:

– Stay informed: The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through newspapers, the Internet, and local television and radio stations. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF-FM channel 16. Small craft advisories and warnings are also available on VHF-FM channel 16.

– Evacuate as necessary: Mandatory evacuation orders should be obeyed. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate people in danger during a storm.

– Secure your boats and boating equipment: Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less likely to break free of their moorings or to be otherwise damaged. Boats that can be trailered should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those mariners who leave their boats in the water are reminded to secure life rings, life jackets and fenders.

– 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 these materials 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 storms. Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe. Rip currents and undertows can drag swimmers away from their boat or the beach and lead to death by drowning when they attempt to fight the current and become exhausted.

“I urge all mariners to prepare for Tropical Storm Isaac. The men and women of Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg are prepared to simultaneously ensure the safety and security of the Republican National Convention and respond to urgent search and rescue operations,” said Capt. Sheryl Dickinson, commanding officer of the sector. “We recently conducted a full scale exercise for just this scenario. However, we need the boating public to help us by preparing for this storm and staying out of harms way.”

Mariners are reminded that in addition to drawbridge closures due to the storm, several security zones will go into effect beginning Saturday at noon. These security zones impact the waterways around downtown Tampa, the waterways and bridges in Pinellas County, and the bridges in Old Tampa Bay.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center.

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