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Coast Guard: Stay Off Water

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US Coast Guard News Release:

Based on the current forecasted track of Hurricane Sandy, the Coast Guard is advising mariners to use caution to avoid heavy rainfall, gusty winds, and dangerous surf that will impact the eastern Great Lakes area this week.

The Coast Guard is advising boaters to prepare now and carefully monitor the hurricane’s progress.

Stay informed – The public should monitor the progress and strength of Hurricane Sandy through local television, radio and internet. The National Weather Service lists marine weather forecasts and current storm advisories regularly at www.nws.noaa.gov. Boaters can monitor the storm's progress on VHF-FM marine radio channel 16. Information can also be obtained through small craft advisories and warnings on channel 16.

Secure your vessel – Boat owners are urged to move their vessel to a protected mooring or haul-out location well in advance of the storm. Mariners are reminded that drawbridges along the coast may deviate from normal operating procedures prior to a storm. Drawbridges are generally authorized to remain closed up to eight hours prior to the approach of gale-force winds of 34 knots or greater and whenever an evacuation is ordered. If owners decide to keep vessels in the water, they should double-check their heavy weather moorings. Vessels or paddlecraft that have been removed from the water and put onto a cradle or trailer need to be tied down as well.

Never stay with your boat – Your boat should be stripped of anything that can become loose during the storm. These items include life jackets, life rings and canopies. This also includes removing the mast in sailboats. Boat documents, radios and other valuables should be removed prior to the storm.

Be cautious of hazardous materials – If you have hazardous materials on your boat, you are responsible for any spills that may occur. Take the necessary precautions to remove or secure them prior to any heavy weather.

Stay clear of beaches – Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by Hurricane Sandy. Surfers and paddlesport enthusiasts are urged to stay clear of beaches and other waterways until local officials say the water is safe.

Evacuate as directed by state and local officials – If mandatory evacuations are set for your area, you are urged to heed evacuation orders. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate those in danger during the storm.

“Staying off of the water and moving your vessel out of harm’s way are the best defenses when a storm is approaching,” said Capt. Andrew Sugimoto, chief of the 9th Coast Guard District Incident Management Branch.

“It’s important that, if you cannot remove your vessel from the area or get it out of the water, you take the necessary precautions to secure additional mooring lines and put out additional anchors. But if it’s too late to more or secure your vessel, leave it as it is. Don’t risk your safety.”

The Coast Guard recommends not going back out onto the water until authorities declare it safe to do so.

For information on how to prepare your boat or trailer for a hurricane, please view the following site http://www.uscg.mil/news/stormcenter/ .

For information on Hurricane Sandy's progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center's web page at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.

Visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency's site for tips to prepare, plan and stay informed at http://www.ready.gov/ .

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