Coast Guard advises caution on beaches in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

national weather service logoSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard advises caution at beaches in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands due to incoming dangerous high surf and rip currents in the area.

There are National Weather Service High Surf and Small Craft Advisories in effect for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands through Thursday morning.  Small craft operators should exercise caution across the local waters due to northeast winds up to 20 knots and occasional seas up to 10 feet.   The surf height and breaking waves are expected to reach 12 feet to 14 feet along with a high risk of rip currents in the area.

The Coast Guard’s primary concern is the safety of persons engaged in water activities, especially local citizens or visitors to the region who may be unfamiliar with the hidden dangers of unmarked or open sea beaches.

Beachgoers are advised to use extreme caution when walking near the water.  The Coast Guard recommends that during this period of high surf, beachgoers remain well clear of the beach and shore where waves make landfall. Large waves and strong rip currents will also increase the risk of ocean drowning. Sneaker waves can suddenly wash people off of beaches, rocks or jetties and capsize small boats near shore. Large shore break can lead to injury and wave run-up.

The Coast Guard Rescue Sub-Center contact number to report a distress or rescue situation in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands is 787-289-2041, while VHF Channel 16 is the international distress frequency to report maritime emergencies.

The National Weather Service advisories can be found at

A rip current is a powerful channel of water that flows quickly away from shore. They often occur at low spots or breaks in the sandbar. Any object or person caught in a rip current can be pulled out into deeper seas.

If you become caught in a rip current, do not panic. The way to escape a rip current is to swim parallel to the shore. Once you are away from the force of the rip current, begin to swim back to the beach. Do not attempt to swim directly against the current, as you can become easily exhausted, even if you are a strong swimmer.

The Coast Guard urges mariners to always:

  • Wear life jackets while on the water.
  • Always have a working marine radio on board.
  • Carry marine flares on board the vessel.
  • Ensure bilge pumps area operational and vessels are secure for heavy winds and rains
  • Stay informed -The public should be aware of weather conditions and monitor progress through local television, radio and internet.  Check the current and expected weather and water conditions before heading out, and be aware the weather conditions change quickly.
  • File a float plan with friends, family members and local marinas before heading out.  The list should include the number of passengers aboard the vessel, vessel’s destination and expected time of return.
  • For more information visit

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