The U.S. Coast Guard said this week it wants all boaters to use VHF-FM radio rather than cell phones as their primary means of making distress calls on the water.
Use of VHF-FM radio provides faster response time in an emergency. When a distress call is sent out over VHF-FM radio, nearby boaters can hear the call and offer immediate assistance even if the Coast Guard is not in the area.
The Coast Guard also has asked all cell phone service providers in states other than Alaska to discontinue use of the keying sequence *CG, which has been the direct emergency line to the Coast Guard.
If a cell phone is the only means of communication, boaters should use 911 rather than *CG. All *CG calls now will be rerouted to the nearest 911 operator.