Don’t set off Chinese lanterns

The NSRI has appealed to everyone nationally not to set off Chinese lanterns as they are mistaken for red distress flares.

This follows the setting off of eight Chinese lanterns yesterday, 16 January, at Bantry Bay. In addition there were reports of Chinese lanterns being set off at several East coast beaches over the December-New Year, including at Jbay beaches, causing the NSRI volunteer sea rescue staff to search in vain for people in need of rescue.

While those reporting the sighting of suspected red lights, which they thought were distress flares, are to be commended, the call-outs and searches for people in distress wastes petrol and the NSRI volunteers’ and other emergency service personnel’s time which could be needed to help people really in distress.

Even if the sighting is confirmed to be a Chinese lantern and not a distress flare, the NSRI still continues searching for some time until it can be absolutely confirmed that no persons or craft at sea may be in any difficulty.

In the Bakoven incident yesterday, for example, the local NSRI volunteer duty crew were activated at 11 am by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) following eye-witnesses reports of suspected distress flares fired in succession off-shore of Bantry Bay.

At least eight ‘flares’ were set off along the Atlantic Seaboard  and sighted off-shore of Bantry Bay. While the NSRI Bakoven duty crew responded to the rescue base to prepare sea rescue craft to be launched, NSRI spotters interviewed eye witnesses and established it was not distress flares but Chinese lanterns that had been set off. However, the situation was monitored for some time to be absolutely certain that no one’s life was in danger.

Edited by Bev Mortimer

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