Flares from the beach could cost lives, says RNLI coxswain

Eastbourne Lifeboat crews are issuing advice after flares set off from the beach between Eastbourne and Hastings caused lifeboat crews to launch unnecessarily in the middle of the night.

Friday, 23rd December 2016, 12:52 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 10:26 pm
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Reports of flares came through in the early hours of this morning (December 23), just after midnight. Eastbourne Lifeboat crews launched the all-weather lifeboat to search for people in trouble at sea. Further reports later revealed the flares had been set off from the beach.

This is not the first time this has happened. A similar incident took place on Wednesday night (December 21) and another last week. On each occasion, coastguard or lifeboat crews have launched to search the waters between Eastbourne and Hastings only to find out it was a false alarm.

Mark Sawyer, coxswain at Eastbourne RNLI, said, “We don’t know who these people are, why they are doing it or where they have got the flares from.

“We are quite certain, however, it is the same people setting them off from the beach.”

He explained flares are sometimes found by people on the beach or, have in the past, been stolen from fishing huts.

Mr Sawyer added, “It could be they think they look pretty and do not understand the consequences of their action or that they get some buzz from seeing the lifeboat and coastguards go out for no good reason – there is really no way of telling.”

He said the crews are all paged and have to get out of bed in the middle of the night. In addition, it costs the charity £8,000 each time it launches an all weather lifeboat.

But Mr Sawyer says the main issue is the possible cost to life while crews deal with false alarms which could easily be avoided.

He said, “Basically, the message is, you are putting people’s lives at risk.

“If there is a real incident in the west while we are out searching in the east, the time it takes us to get to the real incident could cost someone their life.”