Coast Guard urges mariners to take caution due to local inclement weather

national weather serviceCLEARWATER, Fla. – The Coast Guard is urging mariners to exercise caution while on the water today, and throughout the weekend, as inclement weather, high winds and rough seas impact the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Mariners should take proper precautions to ensure their vessels and loose items are properly secured. Before getting underway, boaters should check local marine forecasts for areas they will be transiting through prior to leaving the dock.

Small craft advisories may be in effect in various areas along the coast and mean conditions are unsafe for smaller vessels.

Boaters should ensure they have required safety and emergency equipment on board and that it is in proper working order.

The Coast Guard urges boaters to remember these tips before leaving the dock:

-Have working communication equipment aboard your vessel. A VHF-FM radio is the best method of communication while on the water. Although cell phones are a good backup, they can be unreliable due to gaps in coverage area and battery life.

-Make sure a friend or relative knows your float plan. A float plan states where you are going and how many people are aboard your vessel. It also gives a vessel description, details your destination and what time you expect to arrive there. If you are delayed for some reason, make sure you let someone know.

-Wear your life jacket! In 2014, 84 percent of boaters who drown were not wearing their life jackets. In an emergency there might not be enough time to put one on, so wearing one at all times may save your life.

-The Coast Guard recommends you have an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, EPIRB, aboard your vessel. In the event of an emergency on your boat, such as capsizing or sinking, the EPIRB will help tell rescuers your approximate location and expedite a rescue. EPIRBS take the search out of search and rescue.

-Download the Coast Guard Mobile app. The app helps boaters request a vessel safety check, call the Coast Guard or 911 in an emergency situation, as well as shows required safety equipment mariners will need aboard their vessel.

-Obtain a free, no-fault vessel safety check, from your local Coast Guard Auxiliary, before heading out on the water. The safety checks are courtesy examinations of your vessel, verifying the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations.

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