Coastguard electric distress flare rules

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SAILORS have been warned of the dangers of new distress equipment.

Pyrotechnic flares must be carried on all seagoing and most non-seagoing commercial vessels, as well as all pleasure vessels 44ft or longer.

Electronic Visual Distress Signals (EVDS) are now being offered as alternatives to pyrotechnic flares.

Geoff Matthews, from the MCA said: ‘We note the likely benefits of EVDS such as cost, safety and ease of disposal.

‘However, from a practical perspective the signal produced by these devices is different to that produced by a hand-held pyrotechnic flare.

‘We are concerned that electronic visual distress signals may not be recognised as such, with potentially fatal consequences.’

‘Therefore our advice is that EVDS, for the time being, should not be carried as a substitute for conventional pyrotechnic flares.

‘However, commercial and recreational vessels of all sizes may carry EVDS in addition to pyrotechnic flares and use them as locating devices.’