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Coast Guard app can help find you if you're lost at sea

USCG officers say it's been a busy summer of water searches and rescues.

GALVESTON, Texas — We’ve seen a lot of United States Coast Guard and searches in southeast Texas’ coastal waters this summer.

“This summer has actually been very active for us,” said USCG Petty Officer Barrett Brauch. “Just this past weekend we had eight search and rescues launch from here in Galveston.”

A stranded jet skier was rescued after he’d spent three hours adrift near Crystal Beach over the weekend when his watercraft began taking on water.

RELATED: Jet skier wearing life jacket rescued near Crystal Beach, Coast Guard says

Others have not been as fortunate, like Kemah Police Chief Chris Reed who went overboard while boating near the Texas City Dyke.

“We determined Chief Chris Reed of the Kemah Police Department was not wearing a life jacket,” Brauch said. “Statistically speaking, if you’re wearing a life jacket and you do go overboard, you have a much much higher chance of survival.”

RELATED: Family of former Kemah police chief files lawsuit after drowning death

There are ways you can stay safe if you’re heading out on the water. The Coast Guard recommends downloading its app.

“That’s where you’re going to enter your boat information, what it looks like, how long it is, where you’re launching from and where you’re going to,” Brauch said.

Brauch is talking about the app’s "float plan" feature that boaters fill out before they launch and send to someone back on land.

If a boater is taking too long to return, the Coast Guard can be notified and begin its search.

“That way we have an idea of where to start looking for you when you’re in trouble,” Brauch said.

But one of the most critical features on the app is this big red bar at the bottom of the screen.

“If you find yourself in a distress situation, it’ll link you to the nearest 911 or Coast Guard location,” Brauch said. “And what’s good about it is it shows you your exact GPS location.”

Hopefully it’s a button you’ll never have to push, but in these summer days of choppy water and red flags, you can never be too safe.

The Coast Guard says you’ll generally have cell signal up to 10 miles from shore in the Gulf of Mexico.