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Trying to do right, he does wrong

It seemed like a good idea, just poorly executed.

A father teaching his children how to use marine safety flares on Alaska’s FoxIsland caused a misunderstanding – and extensive search – on June 30 when the Coast Guard spotted the flares and assumed people were in distress, according to a recent press release.

Five hours and $50,000 later, the Coast Guard realized it was just a training exercise.

“Responding to false alarms puts our crews at risk unnecessarily and prevents us from responding to actual emergencies,” said Cmdr. Steve Pearson, response chief Sector Anchorage,Alaska in the report.

The Coast Guard had deployed a Jayhawk helicopter to the island, only to find a small family tent camping on the island. The false flares required 20.4 Coast Guard member hours and 4.5 resource hours.

Flare launching accounts for a small percentage of false calls each year. The Coast Guard reminds the public that while teaching flare usage to others is a good idea, they should first alert Coast Guard and other emergency responders in the area before firing them. Any expired flares can be turned over to any Coast Guard or Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit.

- Elizabeth Ellis