SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard urges recreational boaters and beachgoers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to exercise caution in the coming days due to deteriorating sea state conditions and dangerous rip currents that may be associated with Tropical Storm Franklin and Tropical Storm Gert, Monday.
Boaters and beachgoers are advised to monitor marine weather forecasts and heed National Weather Service advisories that currently are alerting the possibility of life-threatening rip currents and increased sea states over five feet around the coastal waters of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Currently, the Coast Guard Port Condition status for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands remains at Port Condition Four. During Port Condition Four, the ports are open to vessel traffic and facilities are reminded to review their heavy weather response plans and make any preparations needed to weather any storm that may approach the area. The Coast Guard is monitoring these tropical storm systems and will communicate any changes in the Port Condition status as required.
The Coast Guard Rescue Sub-Center contact number to report a distress or rescue situation in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands is 787-289-2041, and VHF Channel 16 is the international distress frequency to report maritime emergencies. Social media is not an appropriate means of reporting distress.
The Coast Guard reminds public and recreational boaters of the following safety messages:
- Stay clear of beaches. Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by hurricanes. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.
- Beware of rip currents. A rip current is a powerful channel of water that flows quickly away from shore. They often occur at low spots or breaks in the sandbar. Any object or person caught in a rip current can be pulled out into deeper seas. If you become caught in a rip current, do not panic. The way to escape a rip current is to swim parallel to the shore. Once you are away from the force of the rip current, begin to swim back to the beach. Do not attempt to swim directly against the current, as you can become easily exhausted, even if you are a strong swimmer.
- Secure belongings. Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or to sustaining damage. Trailer-able boats should be taken out of the water and stored in a place not prone to flooding. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to remove EPIRBs and to secure life rings, lifejackets and small boats. These items, if not properly secured, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources be diverted to ensure people are not in distress.
- Be prepared. Area residents should be prepared by developing a family plan, creating a disaster supply kit, having a place to go, securing their home and having a plan for pets. Information can be found at the National Hurricane Center’s website.
- Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio and Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information on small craft advisories and warnings is also broadcast on VHF radio channel 16.
For more hurricane season preparedness tips, review our safety message for the 2023 Atlantic season here.
For the latest forecast advisories and weather updates for Tropical Storms Franklin and Gert, visit the National Hurricane Center website. For hurricane readiness information, check out the resources available in multiple languages at Ready.gov and FEMA’s website.
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