Marine flares required to be carried on most boats are rarely fired in non-emergency situations. Firing a marine safety flare is like calling "911" or pulling a fire-alarm box -- it is serious business for public service agencies, especially the Coast Guard. As a result, very few people have ever fired one.

It will be possible to fire marine flares as part of a training event, organized by the Darien Sail & Power Squadron and the Darien Advisory Commission on Coastal Waters at Weed Beach May 14 at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.

Permission to fire flares during this time period will be granted by the Coast Guard, as safety briefings and training will be presented by members of the Darien Squadron.

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Fact box

Emergency flares are useful to let a rescue party know where the boat is actually located. Even though radios are used to report problems, rescue crews need to know just where the boat really is located, in the dark, or along unfamiliar shores. If no radio is on board, the flare serves to let other boaters or people on shore know that there is a problem of a boat sinking or that someone needs assistance.

Since the use of a flare is so important in directing rescue services, they are not permitted to be fired on an individual basis or "just for fun," except for special training periods.

The Darien Advisory Commission on Coastal Waters and the Darien Sail & Power Squadron sponsored a FLARE-UP! event three years ago. Since most flares contain expiration dates of three years, the FLARE-UP! event presents an opportunity to dispose of older flares.

Instruction on the use of fire extinguishers will also be available, and there will be an opportunity to use fire extinguishers on a real oil and gas fire, under the supervision of the Darien Fire Marshal.

Boaters are invited to bring flares and fire extinguishers to Weed Beach during the time of this exercise, so that they might use this important emergency equipment. Spare flares will be available for training purposes. If they do not have their own flares on hand, training flares will be provided.

For more information concerning the May 14 FLARE-UP! visit dps.darien.org, 203-656-1129 or email dsps@optonline.net. Owners of expired flares who are not able to attend the event should also contact the Squadron to arrange to donate flares for use in this training exercise.