A lifeboat crew has said lives were “put at risk” after a hoax distress flare was set off on dry land during torrential conditions.
RNLI teams in Stranraer were left furious when the emergency signal was activated shortly before midnight on Friday with “horrible” weather closing in – only for the alert to turn out to be false.
A used canister was later discovered after three separate reports of the beacon being activated in the Cockle Shore area of Loch Ryan were recorded amid a yellow “danger to life” warning for rain was put in place in the west of Scotland.
Coastguard crews were also deployed during the search.
Crew members branded it a “mindless act” and urged against the misuse of the signals.
“The Lifeboat launched in horrible weather conditions and commenced a difficult search of the areas along with Stranraer coastguard,” they said in a statement.
“After a short search, a report was received that a used distress flare canister had been found on dry land confirming the pyrotechnic had been set off from shore.
“Not only did this mindless act risk the lives of the Lifeboat crew and Coastguard teams involved,it also risked the lives of someone who may have required their assistance elsewhere.
“Please do not use pyrotechnics distress flares apart from what they are designed for, to request assistance when in distress at sea.
“They can be highly powerful and if not used properly can cause severe injury or even worse.
“The RNLI is a charity and relies mainly on charity donations and legacies to continue to save lives at sea.
“This incident would have cost the charity a large amount of money.
“Our crew are all volunteers who do this for free.
They are all passionate and committed, giving up their time to continually train and help people in trouble at sea 24/7.
“The boat was rehoused and made ready for service at 00:50 hours,” they said.
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