JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Coast Guard is behind a new push to cut down on false alarms by people using flares.
The problem is costing taxpayers money.
The Coast Guard said it has responded to five cases locally since last Friday.
"Anything we hear, a report that a flare has been sighted, we will respond," said Petty Oficer 3rd Class Anthony Soto. "Depending on the case we can launch boats, and aircraft, including airplanes or helicopters," said Soto.
The price tag can take off rather quickly.
Every time a crew scrambles, it costs $11,000 an hour for a helicopter up to $17,000 for other aircraft.
"One case in particular involved an HC-130 Hercules aircraft and a small boat crew that cost the taxpayer more than $43,000," said Soto.
The Coast Guard wants people on the water to use their flares if there is a true emergency situation, and if the situation changes, the Coast Guard need to hear about it.
False alarms are a felony and carry fines of up to $5,000 if convicted. The person can be held responsible for the expenses incurred by the Coast Guard unit.