Coast Guard urges mariners in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to prepare for Tropical Storm Erika

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – With the approach of Tropical Storm Erika to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the maritime community and boating public are strongly urged to monitor its progress and take early action to protect themselves and their vessels.

Mariners are urged to secure their vessels for Tropical Storm Erika. The time to take action is now! As seen during Hurricane Katrina, those who heeded the warnings of Coast Guard and local law enforcement authorities were able to keep themselves, and first responders, out of jeopardy.

Mariners should take necessary precautions to ensure their personal safety should a storm or hurricane approach. Extremely high seas, heavy rains and damaging winds that accompany tropical depressions, storms and hurricanes present serious dangers to mariners. Rescue and assistance by the Coast Guard and other agencies may be severely degraded or unavailable immediately before, during and after a devastating storm.

Adverse weather effects generated by a depression, storm or hurricane can cover an area hundreds of miles wide. Even those recreational boaters and the maritime industry who fall outside of the direct path of the storm are advised to be cognizant of dangerous weather conditions and take appropriate precautions to stay safe and minimize damage.

Here are a few tips to help mariners protect themselves, their families and their vessels:

• Do not go out to sea in a recreational boat if you know a tropical storm is approaching.

• 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.

• Take action now. The effects of a tropical storm can be felt well in advance of the storm itself and can prevent the safe completion of preparations.

• Check with local authorities before entering any storm-damaged area. Do not rush to your boat. Boaters should not place themselves in danger to get to a boat.

• Do not try to reach your boat if it has been forced into the water and is surrounded by debris. Wait until authorities have made safe access available. Do not try to board a partially sunken boat; seek salvage assistance from a professional.

• Storms move quickly and are unpredictable. You can always replace a boat; you cannot replace a life.

The Coast Guard requests that the public not call Coast Guard facilities for weather information, but to listen to weather broadcasts. Important storm information can also be viewed at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.

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