Boat flare firework warning

SUFFOLK'S sailors are being urged not to use flares as substitute fireworks during this year's Guy Fawkes celebrations.The Royal National Lifeboat Institution and Maritime and Coastguard Agency said lives are put at risk every time lifeboat and helicopter crews are called out in hazardous conditions to what they believe is a genuine emergency.

SUFFOLK'S sailors are being urged not to use flares as substitute fireworks during this year's Guy Fawkes celebrations.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution and Maritime and Coastguard Agency said lives are put at risk every time lifeboat and helicopter crews are called out in hazardous conditions to what they believe is a genuine emergency.

The problem is increasing year on year, possibly because the festivities are no longer restricted to one night but have extended to a much longer period surrounding November 5.

The last three years have seen RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews called out 35 times to false alarms caused by revellers using flares to light up the night sky.

RNLI Staff Officer Operations, Peter Bradley, said: "When a flare goes up it is universally recognised as a distress signal, so it's no surprise to find concerned members of the public dialling 999 when they see one and they should continue to do so.

"Our volunteer crews are always ready to answer the call, but it is frustrating for them to search through the night because a flare has been fired for the wrong reasons. Not only are they called away from their own family parties on Guy Fawke's Night, but they are also risking their lives each time they put to sea, needlessly searching in often very dangerous conditions."

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MCA Head of Search and Rescue Peter Dymond said: "Often people are tempted to use up their out of date flares on Bonfire Night, but this causes real problems for the rescue services.

"We would urge sailors to dispose of flares safely and responsibly by contacting their nearest coastguard station.

"Out of date flares should be replaced straight away - they are an essential part of every sailor's kit and are meant to help save lives, not endanger them."

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