Coast Guard cautions Florida’s Gulf Coast mariners to be ready for Hurricane Irma

TAMPA, Fla. — As Hurricane Irma continues to develop in the Atlantic Ocean, Coast Guard officials in the Tampa Bay area are encouraging the maritime community and boating public to monitor Irma’s progress and make early preparations to protect themselves and their boats.

Securing boats prior to landfall of a hurricane is one of the first steps to prepare. 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. Trailer-able 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 update your Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) registration, and secure them safely to your vessel prior to a major storm. These devices often float free from vessels in marinas or at docks during hurricanes and signal a distress when there is none.

Mariners should take precautions to ensure their personal safety should a storm or hurricane approach. High seas, heavy rains and damaging winds that often accompany tropical depressions, storms and hurricanes present serious dangers to boaters out on the water. Often times the Coast Guard has to reposition boats and aircraft prior to a storm for their safety which can limit response during and in the immediate aftermath of a storm.

Here are a few tips for mariners to protect themselves, their families and their boats:

  • Do not go out to sea in a recreational boat if a tropical storm or hurricane is approaching.
  • Contact local marinas to ask for advice about securing your boat. Marina operators are knowledgeable and can advise you on the best methods for securing your specific boat.
  • Take action NOW. The effects of a tropical storm/hurricane can be felt well in advance of the storm and can prevent the safe completion of preparations.
  • Check with local authorities before entering any storm-damaged areas. 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 your life.

The Coast Guard requests that the public not call Coast Guard facilities for weather information, but to listen to local weather broadcasts.

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

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

For imagery and video of the Hurricane Irma response, please visit our Flicker page.


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