Public urged to label watercraft ahead of Tropical Storm

Public urged to label watercraft ahead of Tropical Storm

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The public is urged to label personal watercraft with contact information and ensure emergency beacons are properly registered in advance of Tropical Strom Ana to prevent unnecessary Coast Guard searches.

Personal watercraft such as surfboards, kayaks, standup paddle boards and dinghies found adrift may prompt the Coast Guard and local first responders to begin a search for a possible person in distress. If watercraft are labeled with a name and contact number first responders will immediately try to contact the owner to determine if someone is in distress.

First responders may assume someone is in distress and begin a search if there is no way to contact the owner. Not only does this cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars, it expends limited resources which may not be available to assist a person in distress.

Through the Operation Paddle Smart program, the Coast Guard offers a free "If Found" decal to be placed in a visible location on watercraft. The information on the sticker can allow response entities to quickly identify the vessel's owner and aid in search and rescue planners in determining the best course of action. The stickers can be obtained for free at local harbormasters, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, from Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron offices, and at select marine retail and supply stores.

Any member of the public possessing a new or used U.S. coded 406 MHz emergency beacon is reminded that they must register it with NOAA as required by law. If a beacon is activated first responders use the beacons registration information to contact the beacon's owner and gather critical information. Improperly or unregistered beacons can result in unnecessary, inaccurate or delayed searches.

The public is reminded that any registration information changes, such as phone number, address, vessel name, etc., must be updated. Owners of beacons that have been sold should notify NOAA of the transfer and new owners must register the beacon for themselves.

Beacon owners may register or update their beacon via the internet, or may print a beacon registration form from the registration website and either mail or fax it to NOAA.

For more information or interview request contact the 14th Coast Guard District public affairs office at (808) 525-3230.

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