U.S. Coast Guard stresses hurricane awareness

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard is urging all mariners to practice safe boating and be prepared for the 2009 hurricane season, which begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

National Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 24-30, is a shared responsibility. Government agencies have a responsibility to alert citizens and respond to those in distress. Those in the path of an approaching storm have a responsibility to stay alert, heed warnings and ensure the safety of themselves and their families.

Coast Guard crews here and throughout the Fourteenth Coast Guard District, which spans 12.2 million square miles, constantly prepare and plan for their response to natural disasters.

Search and rescue drills are conducted regularly to ensure Coast Guard men and women are prepared to handle any threat or hazard. Additionally, the Coast Guard has a duty to protect the marine environment in the case of oil or hazardous materials spills. To mitigate the potentially harmful effects on the environment, the Coast Guard employs various oil spill response equipment and assets, which are strategically placed to respond quickly to reported spills.

Additionally, the Coast Guard is typically the lead agency for response efforts, and our Captains of the Port are the pre-designated Federal On-Scene Coordinators for oil and hazardous substance incidents in all coastal and some inland areas. We also have long-standing partnerships with our local, state and federal counterparts — they become our force multipliers in the effort to save lives and property.

“The devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina and the extensive loss of personal property along the Gulf Coast is a poignant reminder that preparation is paramount as we enter hurricane season,” said Capt. Stephen Mehling, the Fourteenth District’s chief of staff.

Here are some tips for mariners to prepare for hurricane season:

  • If you live or boat in an area prone to hurricanes or heavy weather, know your local and national weather sources and monitor them continuously. Get into the habit of reading weather signs and monitoring the weather;
  • Contact local marinas and ask for advice. You will find marina operators knowledgeable and helpful. They can advise you on the best methods for securing your boat;
  • Remove small boats from the water and move them to a secure location. Ensure the trailer and boat are secured above likely flood areas. Remove all loose items. Ensure the boat is tied securely to the trailer;\
  • If your boat is too large to be removed from the water, move it to a safe haven well before the storm approaches. You should know where safe havens are in the area where you boat.

Mariners in distress should contact the Coast Guard here via VHF channel 16.

For more information, please visit these Web sites:

U.S. Coast Guard Storm Center: www.uscg.mil/news/stormcenter/

U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division: www.uscgboating.org/

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/

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