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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution - Saves Lives at Sea



Kinghorn RNLI Lifeboat volunteers were requested to launch on Wednesday evening at 7.05pm following reports of a red distress flare being sighted over Portobello.

Forth Coastguard received a 999 call reporting a red flare over Portobello. They immediately requested the launch of Kinghorn RNLI lifeboat to investigate.

The lifeboat launched at 7.05pm and headed towards the area where the flare was sighted. Meanwhile the Coastguard received another report of a Chinese lantern in the area at a similar time to the sighting of the red flare. The lifeboat was requested to carry out a search from Leith towards Portobello.

Helmsman Mike Chalmers said, “We carried out a search about half a mile offshore towards Portobello, however nothing was found. The local Coastguard rescue teams from Fisherrow and South Queensferry also undertook a shoreline search.”

“It would appear that this was a false alarm however it serves as a good reminder that although chinese lanterns may look nice, they can present problems and appear similar to red distress flares. Sightings, or suspected sightings will always be acted upon by the Coastguard and I would urge people using Chinese lanterns near the coast to consider whether they really want to use them, or to inform the Coastguard first. This will help prevent unnecessary search and rescue missions from being launched.”

“This would also be a timely reminder that old flares should be disposed of to an appropriate facility, and they should not be fired off to dispose of them. It is illegal to use a flare when you are not in distress. We often get called out over the period around bonfire night to flare sightings when there are also fireworks going off, but this uses valuable resources and time. However if anyone ever does spot a flare, please do report it.”

Kinghorn RNLI lifeboat was called out again on Thursday at 4.10pm to a report of kayakers in difficulty off Kirkcaldy Promenade. A strobe light, thought to be a possible distress signal, was spotted by a member of the public. The lifeboat launched to investigate however the kayakers were out training and had been taking photographs. The lifeboat then returned to station by 5pm.