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Residents urged to use caution in water

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - With more than one dozen water related fatalities this year, December has become an extremely busy month for the Guam Fire Department and search-&-rescue officials. With hazardous sea and surf conditions, those going into the water are urged to use extreme caution.

GFD's Search & Rescue Unit is busier than normal.  Spokesperson Lieutenant Ed Artero says unfortunately this isn't something new, as this time of year is often the busiest with more and more calls for help coming from Guam's waters.  "N0 normally from December to February or March, the waters are pretty rough at this time, so there's some safety information that we can put for all boaters. Make sure they have a float plan with a family member to let them know their whereabouts of where they're going and expected time of arrival," he explained.

The fire department also urges boaters to know the capability of their vessels, always wear life jackets and have good communication. Said Artero, "Cell phones are good but they shouldn't be your only one. The coast guard is pushing is the VHF radio system called 'Rescue 21' - that's on VHF Channel 16 and with that ability it's allows the Coast Guard to record transmissions and if there's an emergency they can triangulate your position."

Last week there was a capsized vessel leading to one drowning as well a death of a tourist who was swimming in Tumon Bay. Two men who were drinking near the Jonestown Overlook were also knocked unconscious by hazardous surf and drowned.

Emergency personnel recommend always having a swim buddy, and never going over the reef without fins and a snorkel and a safety line. The National Weather Service meanwhile has been issuing small craft advisories in recent days as winds of 15-25 knots and seas of 9-11' have been producing some hazardous conditions.

The risk of rip currents remains moderate through the weekend and the NWS advises that anyone in the water always have a floatation device with them in the water.

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