Flares could cost lives - warning

RESCUE chiefs today warned people playing with flares on the banks of the River Orwell that they could be putting other people's lives at risk.Lifeboat crews have been called out twice to hoax calls in the past week after red flares were set off - and say it could have taken the team away when they were needed for a genuine emergency.

RESCUE chiefs today warned people playing with flares on the banks of the River Orwell that they could be putting other people's lives at risk.

Lifeboat crews have been called out twice to hoax calls in the past week after red flares were set off - and say it could have taken the team away when they were needed for a genuine emergency.

It is not known who set off the flares, but they were believed to have been discarded ones probably found by youngsters on the shore.

Harwich Lifeboat Station press officer Keith Churchman said on one of the occasions the main lifeboat was already out on a search and rescue incident when the call about the flare came in.

The second RNLI lifeboat was then sent to investigate the distress flare all the way up the Orwell, leaving no extra cover if there was another emergency.

“We don't know who is setting off these flares but it is very irresponsible behaviour and could put other people's lives seriously at risk,” he said.

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“Because it is a distress signal we have to attend and do a thorough search in case someone needs our help.

“But our biggest worry is that we may be needed elsewhere on a real emergency at that time and would not be able to go.”

Mr Churchman advised people to take their old flares to the Coastguard, who would be able to dispose of them correctly.

Should there be more places to dispose of flares safely? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk