Flares are not for holiday fun

Published on June 28th, 2021

A flare is a pyrotechnic type of Visual Distress Signal (VDS), and all boaters are required by the US Coast Guard to carry both day and night VDS any time they are operating on coastal waters, the Great Lakes, or on the waters connecting to these areas.

But flares expire after 42 months, and proper disposal is not always easy. Scuttlebutt HQ converted to the battery powered E-flares to meet the requirement, though it is common for boaters to use expired handheld pyrotechnic flares as fireworks during Fourth of July celebrations.

The Coast Guard has a message for those people: DON’T DO IT!

Each year the Coast Guard responds to thousands of reports of flare sightings, costing taxpayers millions of dollars in personnel and equipment costs.

“When we see or get a report of a flare, the Coast Guard is launching boats and aircraft to respond,” said Capt. Mike Frawley, incident management chief, 17th Coast Guard District,. “If a flare is inadvertently discharged, letting the Coast Guard know is the absolute right course of action.”

If a flare is inadvertently discharged, report it to the Coast Guard via VHF radio or phone to prevent unnecessary search and rescue efforts, and to keep valuable search and rescue resources available for mariners in actual distress.

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