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Burning expired flares

LaReaLaRea Alexandria VirginiaPosts: 2,725Member ✭✭✭✭✭
A little safety PSA:  If you have never used a [handheld] marine flare, or you haven't used one recently, it's worth lighting one so you can develop or renew a healthy respect for them.

In addition my boat's stock of four fresh flares and four expired ones, I had four more expired flares.  The only way I know to safely dispose of them is to burn them, so that's what I did (not within sight of the water).  Man, those things are unbelievably bright -- and very, very dangerous.  You do NOT want to hold one above skin or fiberglass!  They will drip slag and make you regret it.

It was a good refresher course.  

Um, don't burn one right before heading to the airport to board a flight!  I stink like a fireworks factory right now.
Post edited by LaRea on


  • Handymans342Handymans342 Cape Coral, FLPosts: 6,644Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    The Power Squadron Takes them
  • Michael TMichael T Posts: 6,383Member ✭✭✭✭✭ do you spell GSR fail....LOL I had gun launched flares. they will burn right through someone. As LR says you have to be careful. Boat/yacht clubs often have a flare safety day. the one I used to belong to did. They had a CG, EMS and Police presence. Everyone, even children got to experience how to safely use one. It was a good learning experience. Where I live it is illegal to light a marine safety flare for anything but an emergency on the water.
  • LaReaLaRea Alexandria VirginiaPosts: 2,725Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    Yes, you need special permission to burn any flares that are visible from the water.  Those things are visible for a long distance, and if you see one, you can't mistake it for anything other than a distress signal.  Well, maybe a small sun.  

    I've had to launch aerial flares only once.  As luck (bad luck) would have it, I was trying to signal first responders while surrounded by 1000 other boats watching fireworks.  The drunk jackwagons anchored near me all thought I was just a drunk having fun.  Oh, how I wish that could have been true.  But, getting to the point:  the flare gun was easy to use and extremely effective.  We were close to shore, so I had a safe zone to fire into.

    The flares I burned today expired in June 2014, so they were produced over five years ago.  They ignited easily.  They are supposed to burn for three minutes, but they only burned for 2:45.  
  • halifax212halifax212 Halifax NS CanadaPosts: 200Member ✭✭✭
    Practicing with live equipment under supervision is a great way overcome apprehension using safety equipment in the event of emergency. Same as fire extinguisher training at the workplace. I think I will make some calls locally to see if there are events scheduled this summer. Good thread LR!
  • LaReaLaRea Alexandria VirginiaPosts: 2,725Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    Now that you mention fire extinguishers - I don't think I've ever used one.  At least one of mine is getting a bit long-in-the-tooth.  Maybe I should practice with one of them too.
  • Michael TMichael T Posts: 6,383Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    I was surprised the first time I used a fire extinguisher how difficult it was to put out the fire. My brother in law a divisional fire chief took it and aimed it at the base or the fire in a sweeping pattern, that worked. He had a bunch of them. I was definitely better by the third time. I agree that practice is good. On the gas fire I let off when I "thought" it was out and it popped  right back up. He told me to stay on it until I drained the extinguisher then get a second one ready.
  • JC290JC290 Bolles Harbor MichPosts: 706Member ✭✭✭
    All very good points I have been training a few people at the marina in use of flares fire extinguishers and other safety items. we have enough room at the farm to do such things and I always get a couple of my buddies from the fire department. I would also recommend a basic cpr class/ first aid. No body knows everything but knowing something may save your life or some one else's. 
  • shawnmjrshawnmjr Detroit MIPosts: 1,048Member ✭✭✭
    Remember P.A.S.S when using a Fire Extinguisher 
    Pull pin
    Aim (base of fire)
    Sweep side to side

    This is from watching too many training videos over the years training people at my work lol.. I need a vacation.
  • partlowrpartlowr Naperville, ILPosts: 119Member ✭✭
    My local fire department will take them and other hazardous materials on the first Saturday of every month free of charge.
  • Black_DiamondBlack_Diamond Holland, MichiganPosts: 4,290Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    I agree, great to practice with them so you know what to expect using them 'for real'. I had several SOLAS parachute flares I lit off at home. Like a shotgun going off. lol

    2003 342FV "Black Diamond", 350 MAG MPI, 20P 4x4 Props, PC BYC, Holland, MI
  • raybo3raybo3 Revere MAPosts: 3,705Moderator mod
    I keep mine. As long as they dont get wet they will last almost forever. 
    2002 342 Fiesta Vee PC Point Of Pines YC Revere MA.
  • Michael TMichael T Posts: 6,383Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 2016
    You can keep expired flares but where I boat if you have an inspection and the flares are out of date it's ticket time, plus I hate to have those suckers around just stored as I've seen some go off by mistake. Nasty LOL
  • rasburyrasbury Sanford, FLPosts: 4,254Member ✭✭✭✭
    Great thread, thx
  • raybo3raybo3 Revere MAPosts: 3,705Moderator mod
    I understand that you have to update them. Just buy the min and keep extra's on board. Hopefully no one needs them.
    2002 342 Fiesta Vee PC Point Of Pines YC Revere MA.
  • LaReaLaRea Alexandria VirginiaPosts: 2,725Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    Right -- here, you must carry the minimum number of unexpired flares specified by the Coast Guard for your size boat.  The CG doesn't object to carrying expired flares, but those flares mean nothing if you get inspected.  

    Boy, if I never disposed of flares, I'd have piles of them by now.  Eventually, they become harder to light, and they don't burn as long.

    I think the biggest lesson with handheld flares is:  do NOT wave them around like sparklers.  
  • raybo3raybo3 Revere MAPosts: 3,705Moderator mod
    Tape them to a boat hook and burn them over the side.
    2002 342 Fiesta Vee PC Point Of Pines YC Revere MA.
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