Coast Guard prepares for Hurricane Gustav

HOUSTON – With the approach of Hurricane Gustav to the Texas coast, the Coast Guard is preparing to respond in any way necessary.

In preparation for Hurricane Gustav, Air Station Houston will be holding a media availability day on Sun, Aug. 31, 2008, at 2 p.m. Any media wishing to attend are asked to R.S.V.P. by 10 a.m. Sunday.

The maritime community and boating public are strongly urged to track the storm’s progress and take early action to protect themselves and their vessels. Extremely high seas, heavy rains and damaging winds that accompany tropical 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.

Dangerous weather conditions generated by a 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 aware 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 hurricane 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 hurricane 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.

Boaters and coastal residents can get storm and hurricane information from VHF marine radios, commercial radio and television stations and newspapers, or NOAA weather radios.

In some areas, warning flags are flown to warn boaters of dangerous weather conditions.

The Coast Guard re-established the Coastal Warning Display program May 30, 2007, at selected Coast Guard small boat stations throughout the country to warn the public of approaching storm conditions.

The re-establishment of this program, discontinued by the National Weather Service in 1989, re-enforces the Coast Guard’s role as lifesavers and visually communicates that citizens should take personal responsibility for individual safety in the face of an approaching storm.

Residents of coastal communities are urged to tune to National Weather Service radio broadcasts for the latest information when they observe a flag hoisted as part of this program.

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