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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mariners urged to exercise caution in high surf conditions

APRA HARBOR, Guam—Whenever there is a high surf or small craft advisory, mariners should check the current and forecasted weather conditions prior to getting underway and leave a float plan with a responsible individual. Surf conditions are especially hazardous when entering or leaving harbors and near inlets and reef lines. Mariners should remain aware of changing conditions once on the water. Coast Guard Sector Guam advises mariners: if in doubt, don’t go out!

Boaters are strongly encouraged to have a VHF marine radio on board to monitor weather conditions, communicate with other mariners and call for help in the event of an emergency. The Coast Guard reminds all mariners that channel 16 is the emergency channel and is monitored around-the-clock.

In addition, marinas and local boaters are reminded to check that boats in port are properly secured, bilge pumps are functional, and all loose items are removed from decks. Report any boats adrift, pollution or other maritime emergencies to the Coast Guard Sector Guam Command Center at 671-564-USCG.

Coast Guard Sector Guam advises mariners to consider the following:

* Leave a float plan—with a responsible individual who knows your intentions, location and who they should call if you do not return as scheduled.

* Always have flares and other visual distress signals—inspect them regularly; they can save your life and help rescuers find you at night should you be in distress.

* Wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket—and set the example for your passengers or paddling partners. Before getting underway, verify you have enough life jackets for everyone on board.

* Maintain awareness on the water—be aware of activity around your vessel including changing weather, and always know your location.

* Don’t boat alone—boating alone is not recommended. Recreational paddlers canoeists and kayakers often travel with a single craft and one partner, or even solo, but it is recommended you canoe, kayak or boat with at least three people or two craft.

* Know your limitations—be honest with yourself and your companions. Your life and the lives of those in your party may depend on how everyone understands each other’s capabilities.

Beach safety tips:

* Know the terrain—be aware of and avoid drop-offs and hidden obstacles in natural water sites. Always enter water feet first.

* Avoid rip currents—watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents, like water that is discolored and choppy, foamy, or filled with debris and moving in a channel away from shore. If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore; once free of the current, swim diagonally toward shore.

* Be on the lookout—when swimmers are in or near water closely supervise them at all times, even when lifeguards are present. Always use the buddy system, don’t swim alone.

For safety equipment requirements based on the size and type of your vessel, visit: http://www.uscgboating.org. For local National Weather Service advisories, visit: http://www.prh.noaa.gov/guam. (PR)

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