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CLEVELAND — The Coast Guard is reminding mariners to think safety first for the coming boating season following multiple reports of hundreds of red blinking lights on Lake Erie, most recently Tuesday evening.

The lights are actually from windmills located along the Canadian shoreline and can become visible if the atmospheric conditions are right.

While the Coast Guard encourages mariners to report potential sightings of distress, it is important for boaters to recognize the difference between the characteristics of a distress signal and other lights in the marine environment.

“Technology has had an amazing impact on our world and that includes boating safety equipment that boaters are required to carry onboard their vessels,” said Mike Baron, the recreational boating safety specialist for the Coast Guard’s 9th District. “An electronic signaling device is one of those pieces of equipment that has changed due to research and development. When paired with a U.S. Coast Guard certified day signal, [orange flag with a square over a ball] this meets the carriage requirement for visual distress signals on their recreational vessels.”

Electronic visual distress signals are now an available alternative to hand-held pyrotechnic flares and Coast Guard approved.

“Electronic, or non-pyrotechnic signaling devices have no expiration date, they are safe and easier to use than traditional pyrotechnic devices that boaters have become accustomed to using and there is no concern when it comes to disposing of an expired device.”