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Boating safety tips post Hurricane Ian

boat, boating
Posted at 9:24 PM, Oct 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-06 21:24:04-04

The Seventh Coast Guard District and Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg are reminding Floridians to be cautious while boating post Hurricane Ian.

Recovery and reconstitution efforts are still ongoing on all levels, and the Coast Guard is working hard to support those efforts.

These tips are recommended to all mariners in heavily damaged areas including Fort Myers, Sanibel Island, Pine Island, Naples and Matlacha islands:

  • Stay off the water unless you are playing a critical role in the response. The Coast Guard other responders are actively engaged in restoring our waterways and maritime infrastructure. You can help by steering clear.
  • Stay out of the way of the boats directly involved in the response. If you need to be on the water, please stay out of the way of the responders and transit at bare steerageway so you do not wake out crews working on vessels and barges.
  • Buoys, day boards and other aids to navigation may be off station if shifted by the hurricane. Water depths may be shallower than charted due to shifting sands and shoals. If you encounter an off-station buoy or navigational marker, report it to the USCG.
  • Beware of construction materials like wood, nails, glass and concrete that may be encountered on beaches and in canals. Report hazards to local lifeguards or beach patrol. If you encounter chemicals or oil pollutants in the waterways, report them to the USCG.
  • Be on the lookout for underwater hazards. The storm surge and high winds displaced and damaged many vessels, which means that sunken boats and other obstacles may be just under the surface and will damage your boat, engine or propeller.
  • Turn around, don’t drown. Do not intentionally drive your vehicle into flooded or washed-out areas. You may underestimate the depth and become stuck or damage your vehicle.
  • Before operating your own boats and personal watercraft that were exposed to the storm, check that your fuel was not spoiled by rainwater or seawater which may render them inoperable. Verify your watertight integrity to ensure your hull was not damaged and that your bilge pumps work before getting underway.
  • Be sure you have a working VHF marine radio and a cell phone with a charged battery in case of emergency.
  • If you are on the water, ensure that you and your passengers are wearing USCG-approved lifejackets.
  • For those who evacuated and are returning to their homes in impacted areas that are inaccessible due to damaged bridges or roadways, do not pay for an unlicensed boat operator to transport you and your loved ones. Always ask for credentials before paying for any waterborne services.
  • Do not operate personal unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) around working crews or any low-flying aircraft.