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Posts Tagged ‘Flares’

Orion, a Visual Distress Signal (flare) manufacturer, has a safety awareness program which offers points toward free products for Vessel Examiners.

See the attached pdf files to see how to qualify!

Orion Safety Awareness Program

Saved by the Signal

It is hard to see on the chart below, but here are the heights and durations of these flares:

  • Pocket Rocket Aerial Flares — 300′ and 6.5 seconds
  • 25MM Aerial Flare — 375′ and 7 seconds
  • Skyblazer II Aerial Flare — 450′ and 6.9 seconds
  • 12 Gauge HP — 500′ and 7 seconds
  • Solas & 25MM Aerial Parachute — 1,000 ‘ and 29-40 seconds
  • Hand-Held Flare — 3 minutes

If you use flares to qualify as your VDS, you must have a minimum of three, which are NOT expired. This is one of the requirements of a Vessel Safety Check and one of the first things the Coast Guard will look for if they board or inspect your vessel.

However, do not throw the expired ones away. Keep them in a separate moisture proof container because they might save your life if you use up the unexpired ones. Expired flares have been known to fire even after 10 or more years, if they are kept dry.  For more information, download this Orion brochure called Saved by the Signal.

TIP #1: If you decide to use a flare gun, CHECK TO SEE THAT THE BARREL OPENS before you ever need to actually use it.  There were some defective guns which accidentally made it to the market that would NOT open and although your chances of getting one of these is slim, it is a good practice to make sure your flare gun is operable before you need to use it. However, DO NOT fire a real flare to “TEST” the gun. This is illegal because if someone sees it and reports it to the Coast Guard, you will be fined when someone shows up to assist you and it was a false alarm. (Much like making a false 911 emergency phone call.)

TIP #2: In an actual emergency if you need to fire a flare, try to wait until you can see or hear an approaching vessel or aircraft because you might be firing into the sky with no one around. Also, after you fire the first one, wait about ten seconds and then fire the second one. This is in case someone sees the first flare but is not sure it was a distress signal. The second flare confirms that they have seen something genuine and then can respond accordingly.

Study the images below and learn the differences in types of flares, their duration and the height to which they rise. It makes a big difference in the distance that they are visible from another vessel.

Learn more about Visual Distress Signals by taking one of our boating safety classes in Mandeville at the Pontchartrain Yacht Club or in Madisonville at the Town Hall. See the 2010 Calendar for dates and locations.

Northlake Flotilla 42 has proudly served the needs of the boating public in Mandeville, Madisonville, Covington and neighboring areas on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain for over 27 years. To learn more about us, becoming a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and how we serve to increase recreational boating safety, visit Contact Us. However, no matter where you live, you are welcome to attend any of our classes.