False distress serves as safety reminder during National Safe Boating Week

KODIAK, Alaska – The Coast Guard spent several hours and more than $10,000 Sunday responding to a false distress after a 20 year-old man from Kodiak not in distress fired two flares from a beach south of the island while camping.

Saturday marked the beginning of National Safe Boating Week which highlights specific actions and safety equipment boaters should take to be safe on the water.

When used properly, flares are effective and one of the best ways to immediately draw the attention of rescuers, however, when used improperly they are equally effective at drawing attention but delay the response by rescue crews of those truly in need elsewhere.

Individuals with expired flares should dispose of them properly to avoid an unnecessary and costly search. Flares can be turned in to marine dealers for disposal or fired for training provided advance notification is made to the Coast Guard and local law enforcement.

A Coast Guard helicopter crew flew along the shoreline near Narrow Cape on Kodiak Island Sunday morning after a camper reported seeing a red flare. While searching the area, a second flare was spotted by the helicopter crew.

The Jayhawk crew landed on Surfer’s Beach near several campsites and deployed the rescue swimmer to talk with the campers. The 20 year-old was identified as the person shooting off the flares which had expired and the man was explained the severity of the Coast Guard responding without a distress.

The man was not prosecuted but was educated by the Coast Guard and Alaska State Troopers on his poor decision to fire the flares in a non-distress situation.

For more information on when to use flares and when not to, please visit http://www.safeboatingcampaign.com/

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