Coast Guard urges Florida boaters to stay off the water this weekend

300-2016-10-04_matthewMIAMI — The Coast Guard is encouraging boaters to stay off the water due to Hurricane Matthew extending through Columbus Day.

All boaters and beachgoers are encouraged to monitor weather conditions as the hurricane approaches Florida.

Adverse weather effects generated by a tropical storm or hurricane can cover an area hundreds of miles wide. Even recreational boaters and commercial vessels outside of the direct path of the storm are advised to be aware of weather conditions and to take appropriate precautions to stay safe.

“Columbus Day weekend is very popular for our boating community,” said Capt. Megan Dean, Coast Guard Sector Miami commander. “As Hurricane Matthew approaches, people should strongly consider rethinking weekend plans on the water.”

The Coast Guard is urging the public to heed these important safety messages:

  • Stay off the water.  The Coast Guard’s search and rescue capabilities degrade as storm conditions strengthen.  This means help could be delayed.  Boaters should heed weather watches, warnings and small craft advisories. Boaters should not place themselves in danger to get to a boat. Do not try to board a partially sunken boat. Seek salvage assistance from a professional. Storms move quickly and are unpredictable.
  • Evacuate as necessary.  If mandatory evacuations are set for an area, the public should evacuate without delay.  Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate or rescue those in danger during the storm.
  • Secure belongings.  Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or to sustaining damage.  Trailerable boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding.  Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to remove EPIRBs and to secure life rings, lifejackets and small boats. These items, if not properly secured, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources be diverted to ensure people are not in distress. 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.
  • Stay clear of beaches. Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by hurricanes.  Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.
  • Be prepared. Area residents should be prepared by developing a family plan, creating a disaster supply kit, having a place to go, securing their home and having a plan for pets. Information can be found at the National Hurricane Center’s webpage.
  • Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio and Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16.
  • Take action now. The effects of a storm can be felt well in advance. Check with local authorities before entering any storm-damaged area.

Information on how to prepare your boat or trailer for a hurricane can be found at the Coast Guard’s Storm Center webpage.

For information on Hurricane Matthew’s progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center’s webpage.

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