Fired up over reckless flare misuse

Coast Guard flares for emergency use only; irresponsible use puts lives at risk.

Dear editor,

I was debating on whether I was going to write this letter or not, but the more I thought about it the madder I got, so here goes.

In November our next-door neighbour told us about an emergency flare that had landed in his backyard, on the tarp covering his woodpile. The flare had set the tarp on fire and was about to burn the wood but he was on scene and able to extinguish the fire. This would have resulted in a fire to his storage shed, which is right next to the woodpile, if he had not been home.

On New Years Eve, shortly after midnight we were startled by an intense, bright red light illuminating the inside of our living room & dining room area. We immediately ran out onto our back deck and saw the neighbour extinguishing an emergency flare that had landed between our house and his house. Our neighbour had found the flare just as it was starting to burn the corner of their basketball hoop stand. It was frightening to think that if it had landed a few feet over to one side or the other, it would have been on either our roof or his and could have started a house fire.

A few days later we were taking down our Christmas lights when we found a spent flare cartridge underneath one of our shrubs in our front yard.  My wife decided to check the back yard and discovered a second spent cartridge with the same lot number. It is frightening to think that there could be people in our neighbourhood that would do such an irresponsible and dangerous act.

These are Coast Guard (certified) emergency flares used aboard boats and not for use as fireworks. Certainly, they should not be set off in residential neighbourhoods. These flares are designed with a parachute to enable them to remain in the air for a long time. As they do have a parachute, there is no way to control their flight path; a gust of wind will take them anywhere.

The person or persons that are setting these flares off in neighbourhoods are irresponsible with no concern for public safety. These incidents could have resulted in a house burning down, or loss of life if they landed on a roof.

I sincerely hope that this letter will serve as a warning to anyone who thinks an emergency flare is a suitable substitute for fireworks.



Doug Stevens

Port Hardy