Coast Guard reminds the public to use flares responsibly

17th Coast Guard District NewsKODIAK, Alaska – The Coast Guard would like to remind the public to be safe during the Fourth of July and that flares are to be used for emergencies, not as fireworks.

Flares are essential visual signaling devices that can be used day or night to alert emergency responders and fellow boaters to an emergency situation. Flares are also instrumental in assisting emergency responders to locate those in need of help.

Flares can be dangerous if not handled properly. The following are some safety tips the Coast Guard suggests to properly handle flares:

  • Treat a flare as if it is a firearm: don’t point it toward anyone
  • Do not look at the flare when launching it
  • Hold the flare an arm’s length away from your face
  • Keep the flare pointed downwind from your person, any equipment or structures

What the public may not realize is that improper use of flares could potentially divert valuable search assets from an actual distress case and put rescuers unnecessarily in harms way while responding to the false alarm. Not only do false alarms tie up assets that could be needed elsewhere, burn up crew hours and fuel, but they can also prevent scheduled operations from taking place.

“The Coast Guard takes the response to flares very seriously and sends assets to respond until it can be confirmed it is a non-distress situation,” said Chief Petty Officer Jeffrey Roberto, a search and rescue controller at the Coast Guard District 17 command center in Juneau.

If boaters plan to use flares for training they should contact the nearest Coast Guard unit to inform them of their intentions. Boaters should be prepared to give times, locations and types of flares that will be utilize during the training exercise.

The Coast Guard recommends that boaters properly dispose of old or outdated flares by turning them over to a Coast Guard base, Coast Guard Auxiliary unit and U.S. Power Squadrons Vessel Safety Check Stations. Boaters can also check with their local fire department about the proper disposal of expired flares.


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