Felixstowe: Warning after dangerous flares washed up on beaches

IRRESPONSIBLE sailors were today blamed for not properly disposing of “highly volatile” out-of-date emergency flares – and just dumping them overboard.

Luckily the equipment – fired by sailors in emergencies to call for help and signal their position – was recovered by experts who knew how to handle them before they could be washed up on Felixstowe’s holiday beaches and found by children.

Coastguards and rescue and patrol volunteers said the 30-year-old signal flares, found on the waves washing on to the resort’s shores, were “extremely dangerous” because of their age.

Today sailors were urged to make sure they correctly dispose of flares – as most seafarers do – and people walking or playing on the beaches were warned not to touch such items if they find them washed up.

Coastguard Ipswich sector manager Jo Arlow said: “They are classed as ammunition and are serious bits of kit – they could take someone’s head off if they suddenly exploded.”

Members of the Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol and Rescue Service found a rocket and a smoke canister off the pier at the weekend. The coastguard team found two rockets the following day on the same beach.

Mr Arlow said anyone finding old flares on the shore should not touch them but dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

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John Cresswell, chairman of the Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol and Rescue Service, said: “It was totally irresponsible for someone to dump these flares at sea. If a child had found them on the beach and played with them and they had gone off they could have been seriously injured.”