Coast Guard urges caution during Columbus Day, Fleet Week festivities

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Coast Guard is urging boaters and beachgoers to exercise caution in and around the water this Columbus Day weekend.

Hazardous beach conditions, with swells reaching up to 13 feet, caused by a storm system in the Gulf of Alaska are expected through Monday.  Beachgoers should obey posted warning signs and flags and be cautious of sneaker waves.

Swimmers should be especially wary of rip currents and know how to identify and escape from them.

“With Fleet Week festivities in full swing, we anticipate many boaters and beachgoers on the water or at the beaches this weekend,” said Capt. Greg Stump, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Francisco. “However, we urge boaters to use good judgment and follow the safety tips provided below. Beachgoers should be aware that our beaches have some of the strongest rip currents and cold water which makes the ocean very dangerous for casual swimmers.”

The Coast Guard offers the following safety tips for ways to stay safe on the water:

* Stay Informed – The public should be aware of weather conditions and monitor the progress and strength of storms through local television, radio and internet. Check the current and expected weather and water conditions before heading out, and be aware that weather conditions can quickly change.

* Wear life jackets while on the water. In 2013, 84% of boating-related drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.

* File a float plan with friends, family members or local marinas before heading out. The list should include the number of passengers aboard the vessel, vessel’s destination and expected time of return.

* Always have a working VHF-FM radio aboard; cell phones may not reliable once underway.

* Safety Equipment should be based on the size and type of a vessel, there may be specific federal requirements for safety equipment.

* Do not boat under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. These affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination. Factor in boat motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray and impairment is accelerated.

* Keep children informed of water safety. The Coast Guard encourages the boating public to educate children on water safety.  There are kid-friendly resources ready for the task!

Click on the following link to review the federal requirement brochure:

Boating Safety Sidekicks:

For information on rip currents follow this link:

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