The Coast Guard is urging mariners and residents to begin planning and preparing for the 2010 Hurricane Season. National hurricane preparedness 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.
Tropical systems acquire a name when they reach tropical storm strength with sustained winds reaching 39 mph. They become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph and become major hurricanes when winds increase to 111 mph.
As storms approach, the Coast Guard urges people to remember these guidelines:
- Stay informed: The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through newspapers, the internet, and local television and radio stations. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF-FM channel 16. Small craft advisories and warnings are also available on VHF-FM channel 16.
- Evacuate as necessary: Mandatory evacuation orders should be obeyed. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate people in danger during a storm.
- Secure your boats and boating equipment: Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less likely to break free of their moorings or to be otherwise damaged. Trailerable boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those mariners who leave their boats in the water are reminded to secure life rings, life jackets and tenders.
- Be cautious of hazardous materials: If you have hazardous materials on or near the water, you are responsible for any spills that may occur. Take the necessary precautions to secure these materials prior to any foul weather.
- Stay clear of beaches: Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by storms. Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe.
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.
Mariners in distress should contact the Coast Guard via VHF-FM channel 16 or 22 Alpha.
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/