Coast Guard urges safety during spring break in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

San Juan, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard reminds all boaters, swimmers, surfers and divers to practice safety when in the water during the spring break holiday week in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin islands to ensure everyone gets home safe and sound.

“All boaters, swimmers, surfers and divers should take extra safety precautions before going out in the water,” said Lt. Cmdr. Walter Chubrick, Sector San Juan Command Center chief. “Water related activities increase significantly as families and vacationers look to spend time together in the beaches and the water during spring break.”

“Sadly, over the last weekend there has been has been one death and three people taken to the hospital in two separate boating incidents in Puerto Rico and another person is still missing after he reportedly jumped off the rocks into the water off Vega Baja Beach,” said Lt. j.g. Fausto Veras. Sector San Juan Search and Rescue controller. “In most cases steps can be taken, or equipment put to use that can help to save lives.”

Boating and Water Safety Tips:

  • Check the weather before casting off and monitor the weather by radio continuously.
  • Know the boat you are on, including the location and operation of all safety gear, including a VHF-marine radio. This is especially true if renting or borrowing a boat that you may not be familiar with.
  • Do not rely on cell phones as a primary means of distress communication. Coverage is unreliable and communications are only point-to-point, limiting the chances of a Good Samaritan coming to your aid and if you get cut-off the call may not be reestablished. Radio is your best bet to communicate trouble and get help to you quickly.
  • Even in our warm climate, exposure can pose a problem for boaters stuck at sea for prolonged periods. Be sure to wear appropriate clothing. Boaters are also urged to carry extra food, water and visual aids such as flares, signal mirrors, flash lights or strobe lights. These items will help the Coast Guard see you should your boat become disabled.
  • It is recommended that everyone always wear a life jacket when in the water, but at a minimum have a properly fitting life jacket for every person on board and ensure that they are quickly accessible. Often, when trouble happens, it happens fast. If you find yourself in the water or the boat capsizes, try to stay with the boat as it makes it much easier for rescuers to find you.
  • A float plan should be prepared and shared with friends and family. That will give them an idea of where you are going and when you will return home. The float plan has all pertinent information about your boat, increasing your chances of being rescued. You can download a float plan at: and
  • You can also contact the Coast Guard Auxiliary for a free vessel safety check log on to and click on “I Want a VSC” to find a Vessel Examiner near you.
  • Taking a safe boating class arms you with valuable information. For a boating safety class with the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Puerto Rico you may call 787-383-9717 or 787-789-4983.

Preparation is the key to safe boating at all times, and especially during this vacation season.

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