DO not fire distress flares to thank the NHS – this was the message after Lymington Coastguard responded to a false alarm during last Thursday’s Clap for Carers.
The team was dispatched having just finished applauding medical staff and key workers after multiple 999 calls from members of the public reported four red parachute distress flares had been launched in the Lymington area.
However, a search established the flares were fired from a spot inland, leading the rescuers to believe this was part of the appreciation for the NHS event at Lymington Hospital.
A Lymington Coastguard spokesperson said: “These flares are recognised distress signals for maritime purposes and it is illegal under the Merchant Shipping Act to use them for any other purpose.
“Firing of a red flare in a non-distress situation diverts valuable land, sea and air rescue assets away from a genuine search-and-rescue emergency.
“While we completely understand that people want to show their appreciation for the NHS and key workers – as we ourselves have done so on Thursday evenings with the rest of the country – distress flares and Chinese lanterns, which are easily mistaken for flares, are not the way to show it.”
People are also reminded that flares should not be used if they have passed their expiry date.