Boaters to fire off flares at Weed Beach in Darien Saturday

Boaters looking to tune up their on-board safety procedures can head to Weed Beach in Darien Saturday morning with their outdated emergency flares and fire extinguishers where they will be instructed how to use them properly.

Marine flares are required to be carried on most boats are rarely fired in non-emergency situations, according to the Darien Sail & Power Squadron, the orginization hosting the event.

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 an emergency flare.

On Saturday, May 3 at Weed Beach between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. it will be possible to fire the flares as part of a training event, organized by the Darien Sail & Power Squadron and the Darien Advisory Commission on Coastal Waters. The Coast Guard has given permission to fire flares during the safety briefing and training at the beach.

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 is located. 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 is severely injured and 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 such as the May 14th event.

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

Boaters are invited to bring flares and fire extinguishers to Weed Beach during this exercise so they learn to properly use this important emergency equipment.