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PORTSMOUTH--The Coast Guard encourages boaters to stay off the water Friday due to the approach of Tropical Storm Andrea and the storm's impact on the Hampton Roads area.

Adverse weather effects generated by a tropical storm or hurricane can cover an area hundreds of miles wide.

Boaters should take the precautions necessary to ensure their personal safety due to strong, gusting winds associated with the outer weather bands of tropical storms. Heavy seas, significant rain and damaging winds may accompany and present serious dangers to boaters.

Here are a few tips to help mariners protect themselves, their families and their vessels:
If local authorities issue an evacuation notice, take heed and know the evacuation routes.
Secure electronic position indicating radio beacons. If unsecured, an EPIRB can break free from a boat and trigger an emergency signal to the Coast Guard.
Do not go out to sea in a recreational boat when a tropical system is approaching.
Contact local marinas to ask for advice about securing a vessel. Marina operators are knowledgeable and can advise mariners on the best methods for securing a boat.
Ensure boating gear is properly stowed or tied down to avoid causing unnecessary searches by the Coast Guard and other first responders. Life jackets, life rafts and small non-powered vessels are some examples of boating equipment often found adrift following severe weather.
Take action now. The effects of a tropical system can be felt well in advance of the storm itself and can prevent the safe completion of preparations.
After the storm passes, check with local authorities before entering any storm-damaged area. Boat owners should not place themselves in danger in order to survey damage.
Do not try to reach a boat that has been forced into the water and is surrounded by debris. Wait until authorities have made safe access available.
Do not try to board a partially sunken boat; seek salvage assistance from a professional.
Stay clear of beaches. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents. Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe.

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