Coast Guard warns to prepare for winter storms

SEATTLE — With severe weather upon us, the Coast Guard reminds boaters to be prepared and stay aware. Strong winds and heavy surf remain in the forecast over the next several days.

With the continued heavy weather in the Pacific Northwest the Coast Guard is strongly encouraging mariners to take the necessary steps to ensure that their boats are properly secured.

“Today, in the last 3 hours alone, the Coast Guard has received reports of seven vessels adrift in Puget Sound. These adrift vessels not only represent a possible loss of property for the owners, they are significant hazards to navigation and also pose a serious environmental threat as chemicals and fuels onboard can spill should the vessels break apart. Coast Guard and partner agency response crews are also put at risk when responding to these boats in rough waters,” said LT John Hanley of Coast Guard Sector Seattle.

Boaters should follow these guidelines to ensure their safety:

Ensure you have a storm anchor. The anchor that comes with a boat is often inadequate for the storms in the Pacific Northwest. An improper or inadequate anchor can cause your boat to drift and may lead to unnecessary search and rescue calls.

Check all of your anchor and mooring lines. Double the lines up for added strength. Ensure all lines and tackle are in good condition.

Small boats should be removed from the water and moved to a secure location well above tidal and flood areas to ensure they are not washed out to sea.

Cover your boat: Heavy rains can flood boats and even cause sinking in extreme cases. Protect your boat and be sure your vessel is adequately covered when it is moored up to prevent flooding. If you can’t bring your boat onto shore, make sure it is securely fastened to its dock. Vessels that break free from their moorings can become a hazard to navigation and endanger the lives of those who must retrieve them.

Ensure boat registration numbers are updated with correct owner information. Consider keeping owner contact information on vessel itself. With this information, agencies responding to adrift vessels can promptly return the vessel to its owner.

Wear Personal Floatation Devices: Life jackets – bring one for each person. History has shown that the chance of survival greatly increases if an individual is wearing a personal floatation device. For more information on life jacket requirements visit: http://www.uscgboating.org/command/initiative/jacket.htm

For a detailed coastal weather forecast, click the National Weather Service link for your area:

Western Washington – http://www.weather.gov/seattle, http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/data/Forecasts/FZUS56.KPQR.html

South Washington/Central/Northern Oregon Coasts – http://www.weather.gov/portland

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