Beach combing can be great fun. You never know what you will find – often a colourful shell, curiously patterned stone or interestingly shaped piece of driftwood.
However, during a recent beach clean, the National Trust Volunteer Group discovered something that we certainly didn’t want to pick up.
It was an unused rocket parachute flare. We didn’t know how long it had been floating around in the water for and since it may have started to degrade, was potentially very dangerous. Luckily for us, a quick phone call to the nearby Coastguard station in Portaferry and within minutes, two trained Coastguard Officers were on the scene.
It was carefully put into a metal box and taken away to be destroyed safely.
The Coastguard Officers told us that these flares have a limited shelf life. They suspect that rather than pay for proper disposal, a minority of irresponsible boat owners simply throw the old flares overboard. Out of sight, out of mind? It would certainly be on their minds if a child had picked it up from the beach and seriously injured themselves.
Thanks must go to the Coastguard for their quick response. It is good to know that they are not just keeping those at sea safe, but also those of us on the beach.