Summer Safety is a joint partnership with the Ardrossan Coastguard Rescue Team and Newsquest International to make sure your summer trips to the cast are ones to remember for all the right reasons – not the wrong ones.

There’s nothing more relaxing than a nice long walk along the beach on a Summer’s day or late evening just as the sun starts to set. We have been graced with some excellent weather so far this Summer but even a simple walk along the coast could lead to a situation which may require Coastguard assistance.

Maritime distress flares are common place on most boats and are recommended by HM Coastguard as part of the range of safety equipment which should be carried when setting out to sea along with other essentials including VHF Marine radio, life jackets and a first aid kit to name a few.

Maritime distress flares come in a variety of forms and have separate functions, but overall they are designed to attract attention of other vessels in the area or of persons on the shore that you are in distress and require assistance.

These distress flares can help save lives and raise the alarm but they also come with some risks attached if they are not handled or stored correctly. Due to the contents of distress flares, including some explosives material, they come with an expiry date and once this date has passed, they should be disposed of.

This can easily be done at most local marinas or chandlers or by contacting your local Coastguard Rescue Team to find out where the designated Coastguard disposal location is.

Unfortunately from time to time, time expired maritime distress flares get washed up along the beach having been accidentally lost whilst at sea or deliberately thrown overboard or dumped along the coastline. What can look like a harmless plastic tube is actually extremely dangerous and could lead to serious injury.

We would urge the public if they come across something which they think could be a maritime distress flare along the coast to leave it where it is and don’t be tempted to touch or move it. In recent weeks there have been instances where they have been removed from the beach and taken to a local police office which has a wide range of risks associated with it.

The advice is really simple – don’t touch them, take a note of its location on the beach or in relation to a local identifiable landmark and dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Coastguard Rescue Teams are specially trained and equipped to safely remove and dispose of flares which are found on the coast.

We would also urge boat owners to dispose of flares responsibly via a local chandlers or by making use of one of the designated Coastguard disposal sites. Girvan Coastguard Rescue Station is the designated disposal site for time expired maritime distress flares for the south west and is open every Sunday from 9am until 1pm where flares can be deposited at no cost.

In a coastal, beach or cliff emergency always dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.