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In the event of an emergency, a 25-watt VHF marine radio is your best lifeline. When you install a marine radio, read your manual. If you do not understand its proper use you could jeopardize someone in need of emergency assistance. You could also find a need for assistance and not be able to properly alert those who could help you.

Many base stations and vessels are responsible for maintaining a “listening post” to receive emergency calls. These posts monitor VHF Channel 16 156.800 MHZ. All emergency response personnel, who respond on the water, listen to VHF Channel 16; it is the International distress, safety and calling channel. Emergency distress calls need to be placed on Channel 16. Vessels with a VHF radio turned on are required to monitor Channel 16.

When an emergency arises, the use of hand-held radios as a primary means of calling is a poor choice. Use of a cell phone will often result in long delays in receiving assistance. Few boaters venture out on large bodies of water expecting an emergency, but when one arises and help is needed a good 25-watt marine radio may be the only way help can be obtained.

CHECK LIST FOR REQUESTING ASSISTANCE:

  • 25-watt radio is the most reliable means of calling.
  • Tune to channel 16- transmit Pan-Pan 3 times, give your vessel name, your position and reason for requesting assistance.
  • If a life or your vessel is in imminent DANGER, call Mayday 3 times, state your boat name, your exact location and your specific emergency.
  • If you are using a hand-held radio, go to the open deck or highest level of your boat, hold the radio with the antenna pointing straight up and place your call in the same manner as stated above.
  • If you are using a cell phone, determine your position before calling and then call the nearest Coast Guard station. If you reach a resource by cell phone do not hang up or end your call without giving your area code and cell number. They need your number to help in locating your position and gathering further information.
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