SAN FRANCISCO — The Coast Guard urges boaters and beachgoers to exercise caution in and around the coastal waters of the San Francisco Bay area due to high surf conditions this weekend.
A high surf warning is now in effect until Saturday afternoon along the coastline of Sonoma County through Monterey County. Westerly swells around 11-14 feet with swell periods of up to 19 seconds are expected by Friday evening, with local breakers up to 20 feet possible. Swells are expected to peak this evening and will decrease by Saturday morning. The hazardous conditions increase the risk of being washed into the sea by waves.
Waves are expected to heavily impact the shoreline, resulting in dangerous swimming conditions and rip currents.
"The hazardous conditions increase the risk of boating, fishing and recreating on or around the water and beaches," said Lt. Lonnie Walp, Coast Guard Sector San Francisco command duty officer. "It's important for the public to be aware of the risks and avoid it if possible."
If caught in a rip current, water experts recommend swimmers to swim parallel to the coast to escape the current before swimming for shore. It is advised to always swim near a lifeguard.
The Coast Guard offers the following safety tips on the water:
* Be aware of weather conditions and monitor the progress and strength of storms through local television, radio and internet. Check the current and expected weather and water conditions before heading out. Be aware that weather conditions can change quickly.
* Wear life jackets while on the water. In 2013, 84 percent of boating-related drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.
* File a float plan with friends, family members or local marinas before heading out. The list should include the number of passengers aboard the vessel's destination and expected time of return.
* Always have a working VHF-FM marine-band radio onboard; cell phones may not be reliable once underway.
* Do not boat under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances because it can impair your judgment, vision, balance and coordination. Boat motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray can accelerate impairment.
* Keep children informed of water safety. The Coast Guard encourages the boating public to educate children on water safety. For more information on boating safety for kids, visit www.boatingsidekicks.com.
* Dog owners are also reminded to protect their pets from rough waves and not to attempt to rescue their dog from a surf zone. It is important to remember to keep calm and allow the dogs to swim out on their own. For more information on how to protect your pets, please visit http://www.dvidshub.net/video/279770/beach-safety-information-you-your-family-and-your-pet#.VBivvUsYfS5
* For more information on all watches, warnings and advisories currently in effect, follow this link: http://forecast.weather.gov/wwamap/wwatxtget.php?cwa=MTR&wwa=all
* For information on rip current safety, follow this link: http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov/overview.shtml
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