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Missing Florida teens: What to do if stranded at sea

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REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Handout via Reuters

(Read caption) 14-year-olds Austin Stephanos (L) and Perry Cohen are showing in this handout provided by the United States Coast Guard in Miami, Florida, July 26, 2015. The Coast Guard expanded its search on Sunday for the two teenage boys who went missing during a fishing expedition off the Florida coast two days ago, the service said in a statement.

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Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos went missing off the coast of Jupiter, Fla., on Friday after embarking on a routine fishing trip.

The 14-year olds are described as tried and true seamen by their families.

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“They know the waters. They’ve been through rough water, they’ve been through thin water. …Those are salty dog kids, and they know what they’re doing out there,” Perry’s stepfather told CNN.

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The boys were last seen buying $110 worth of fuel at 1:30 p.m. and were reported missing about 5 p.m. Friday, as NBC News reported. The waters off the Jupiter coast were likely rough because of thunderstorms, said Nick Wiltgen, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

Both families say they will stop at nothing to find their children. It's been reported that former NFL star Joe Namath is behind the $100,000 reward for their rescue. The family has asked only experienced boaters to help in the search.

“We whole heartedly believe they are out there and alive,” Pamela Cohen, Perry’s mom, told WPTV. Austin’s mom, Carly Black, echoed Ms. Cohen and said she’s holding out hope that the boys are still alive.

Hundreds of family members, friends and classmates took part in a Sunday night prayer vigil for the two missing teens. 

On Sunday, Perry and Austin’s boat was found capsized about 67 nautical miles off the coast near Daytona Beach, Fla., Coast Guard Petty Officer Stephen Lehmann told NBC News. They were not on board.

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According to CNN, the boys had told others they planned on traveling to the Bahamas – a decision that their parents say they were not aware of and would not have approved. A Coast Guard spokesman said one life vest was found in the hull of the boat but the families did not know how many life vests were originally on board or whether the boys had been wearing them.

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Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Mark Barney told CNN, “We’re heavily concerned for their well-being and we’re doing every we can do to bring them back home.”

 "It’s one thing for the boys to be missing inside the vessel, and it’s another thing for them to be missing in open water. …Now they’re in an even worse situation if they are to be in the water right now,” he said.

But people can survive in the open ocean, at least for a short amount of time, if the water is warm enough. In 2013, HLNtv reported that a woman survived 16 hours adrift off the coast of Honduras.

Survivenature.com gives some tips for open ocean survival:

  • STOP and think. STOP stands for “stop, think, observe, and plan.”
  • Float. If a flotation device is available, use it. If not, find a floating position that uses the least amount of energy
  • Find water. If you have items that can be used to collect rainwater, use them. You can also find drinkable liquids in fish.
  • Find food. Pull in any seaweed you find and look for edible fish, crabs, and shrimp.
  • Travel and rest. Allow the current to take you where it must. Only paddle when the shore is visible.
  • Rescue. Find someway to signal to others that you are there.