Coast Guard reminds boaters to take precautions during inclement weather

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The Coast Guard rescued 16 boaters Saturday and reminds boaters to stay safe during inclement weather predicted to impact the west coast of Florida this week.

Due to multiple factors, predominately weather, Coast Guard crews responded to six search-and-rescue calls Saturday saving three lives and assisting 13 more.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls for severe weather in the region that may cause tornados, hail, high winds, rough sea conditions, limited visibility, coastal flooding and lightning strikes.

Small craft advisories and gale warnings are in effect for various areas along the coast.

“Due to severe weather impacting our region, it is ill advised to head out on the water,” said Richard Hutchinson, a search and rescue coordinator at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “Your life is too valuable to take the risk and brave these conditions.”

Mariners should take proper precautions to ensure their vessels and loose items are properly secured. Unsecured items, such as kayaks, canoes, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons and lifejackets can prompt an unnecessary search that puts emergency responders in undue harm. Non-emergency activation of EPIRBs is one of the leading causes of unnecessary searches. EPIRBs can be activated once they hit the water, instantly prompting Coast Guard response.

For more weather information please visit: http://www.weather.gov/tbw/