Coast Guard Sector San Francisco urges caution for upcoming 4th of July holiday

(Not for navigational purposes) An illustration of Coast Guard Sector San Francisco’s security zone established around the San Francisco waterfront for the 2019 Fourth of July firework display from approximately 9:00 p.m.–10:30 p.m., July 4, 2019.  U.S. Coast Guard image.

SAN FRANCISCO — The Coast Guard reminds mariners to exercise caution during the 4th of July holiday celebrations.

Mariners are reminded to stay clear of fireworks-display barges and shoreside facilities.

Temporary safety zones have been established surrounding the fireworks displays. No vessels may enter into, transit through or anchor within these safety zones unless authorized by the Coast Guard or assisting local law enforcement agencies during the fireworks displays.

The Coast Guard urges mariners not to launch or use fireworks aboard a vessel as they can be mistaken as a sign of distress, needlessly attracting Coast Guard and other rescue resources.

Mariners should not use safety flares as fireworks, as they are internationally recognized as distress signals. It is a federal felony for anyone to knowingly and willfully communicate a false distress message. This includes, but is not limited to, firing flares in a non-distress situation or saying “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday” for a radio check. The firing of a flare in a non-emergency situation is a felony and could result in a delayed response to a legitimate maritime emergency.

The Coast Guard recommends the following safe practices:

  • Do not impede navigable channels if watching fireworks from the water.
  • Make sure a friend or relative knows your float plan. A float plan states where you are going and when you will return.
  • Always wear a life jacket while aboard a vessel. More than 84 percent of boaters who drowned were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Maintain a reliable means of communication such as a VHF radio and a fully charged cell phone.
  • Listen for safety zones, safety bulletins and emergency broadcasts via VHF-FM channel 16.
  • Never boat under the influence. Have a designated sober operator, as it is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“We want everyone to enjoy the waters of San Francisco Bay this 4th of July, while maintaining vigilance and staying safe,” said Capt. Marie Byrd, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Francisco. “Before getting underway, be sure to file a float plan with friends or family and maintain awareness of weather conditions. Out on the water keep a sharp lookout for other watercraft, steer clear of fireworks safety zones, and contact the Coast Guard at the first sign of trouble on your boat or any other boat.”

For more information on boating safety, please visit

Please visit the NOAA website at for the most up-to-date information on weather broadcasts.

If you have any problems viewing this article, please report it here.