Warning as 'lethal weapon' distress flares released among fireworks in Lymington
“THEY are lethal weapons” – that was a rescue team’s warning after distress flares which fire at around 200mph were set off with fireworks in a Lymington street.
Crew from HM Coastguard Lymington responded along with police to multiple 999 calls reporting red distress signals sighted in the vicinity of Undershore Road around 5.45pm on Sunday.
As it investigated the area, the coastguard team also called out the local RNLI which scoured the Lymington River for potential distressed sailors.
Further reports of fireworks being set off nearby resulted in the coastguard team recovering six spent flare canisters in Monument Lane.
A spokesperson for the unit said: “These red parachute and hand-held flares are recognised international 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.
“On this occasion a multi-agency response of police, Coastguard and RNLI assets were used.
"These pyrotechnics are extremely dangerous and pose a considerable threat to life if not deployed correctly.”
Speaking to the A&T, the spokesperson added: “If it is kids who are playing with these flares, they are lethal weapons, the parachute ones in particular as they fire at about 200mph out of their casings.”
People are also reminded that flares should not be used if they have passed their expiry date. All genuine coastal emergencies should be reported by dialling 999 and asking for the coastguard.