Over the summer, the U.S. Coast Guard’s 7th District has responded to more than 60 flare sightings, many of which were non-distress situations. The costs since June 1 to conduct searches with air and/or boat crews is between $3.6 million and $5.3 million.
“Shooting a flare in a non-distress situation is no different than dialing 911 and hanging up,” said Capt. Todd M. Coggeshall, chief of response management for the Coast Guard 7th District. “Flares alert the Coast Guard, first responders, and other mariners of a distress situation on the water. It’s a call for help. Every time a flare is fired and reported, we respond, so we are asking the public to only use flares when there is an actual distress situation. This avoids unnecessary searches and ensures people in real distress get the help they need as quickly as possible.”
The Coast Guard responds to any sightings of red or orange flares, or any other flare where there is reason to believe there may be a distress situation. Average minimum costs for a search range from $61,000-$89,000, depending on which assets respond.
Expired flares should be disposed of in accordance with local laws for hazardous or flammable waste. Boaters may also contact a local Coast Guard Auxiliary flotilla for information on the safe and responsible disposal of unused flares.