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Remove EPIRBs, life-saving devices from boats before storm hits

Coast Guard: Boaters should secure safety items to avoid false distress signals

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Coast Guard needs boaters and mariners to prepare before Hermine hits, in order to keep everyone safe.

In an audio message released by Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Kelley, 7th Coast Guard District Public Affairs Officer, Kelley warns that all boaters need to heed any notifications issued by local, state and federal agencies.

"During the storm and in the immediate aftermath of the storm, the Coast Guard's ability to respond might be limited simply because we've had to reposition assets or individuals for their protection from the storm. As soon as we are able to safely and effectively respond to those in distress however, we will do so," Kelley explained.

Because in any storm, safety of individuals and families are a top priority, Kelley emphasized the need to avoid false alarms.

"One of the things boaters can do is make sure they remove their EPIRBs from their vessels before the storm hits, as well as secure any life rings or life jackets to their boats," said Kelley. "Sometimes in storms these types of safety devices can float free and EPIRBs can activate, sending signals of distress when nobody is in actual distress and these can signal false alarm and Coast Guard could launch into a search and rescue mission when no one is in actual distress."

Once the storm is gone, Kelley says it is important to make sure you return all safety devices to your boats.

Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville is also asking all boat owners to make sure their vessels are secure.

"Owners of larger boats are urged to move their boats to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or damage. Trail-over boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding," warned Lt. Jarrod Owens, stationed at Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville.

Again, if you are leaving your boat in the water, Owens reminds you to secure or remove all life-saving devices to avoid false distress signals which could require valuable search and rescue resources.

 Information on small craft advisories and warnings can be obtained on VHF radio channel 16. You can access marine radio information from the U.S. Coast Guard here.

Jacksonville crews are also asking you to stay clear of the beaches.

"Even the best swimmers can fall victim to strong waves and rip currents caused by the storm," added Owens.

Coast Guard advice to help mariners protect themselves, their families and their vessels

  • Do not go out to sea in a recreational boat if you know a storm is approaching.
  • Contact local marinas to ask for advice about securing your vessel.
  • Marina operators are knowledgeable and can advise you on the best methods to secure your boat.
  • Take action now. The effects of a storm can be felt well in advance, and bridge schedules can and often shift from their normal operating schedule. Check with local authorities before entering any storm-damaged area.
  • When removing your EPIRB from your vessel, ensure it does not inadvertently activate which could signal a false alert. Furthermore, once the severe weather has passed, mariners are reminded to ensure the EPIRB devices are placed back on their vessels prior to the vessel’s next use.
  • Do not try to board a partially sunken boat. Seek salvage assistance from a professional. Storms move quickly and are unpredictable.