Emergency Boat Flares
Be flare Prepared
Flares are an effective device for signaling distress and showing your position - they're highly visible on the water and from the air.
Read and understand the firing instruction(s) for your flares before you need to use them.
- Firing mechanisms vary so make sure that you read the instructions printed on the sides. It's not the right time to learn how to use a flare when you're in trouble on the water.
- Always store flares in a waterproof container or in a dry designated area below deck. Make sure that your passengers and crew know where they are and how to use them.
- Before each boating season begins, check the expiry date of the flares and replace them as necessary. Old flares become unstable and can be unreliable.
Never set flares off unless you are in distress or are attending a properly organised flare demonstration.
There are several types of flare, with each having benefits
- Orange smoke – when triggered, this lets off a cloud of orange smoke, which can't be extinguished due to heavy rain or howling wind. These are good as a line-of-sight distress signal, but because there's nothing burning (and so nothing glowing) they're suited for daytime use only.
- Red handheld – effective as a line-of-sight distress signal by day and night, handheld flares are very bright with a good visibility range. They are very visible from an aircraft and will usually burn for up to 60 seconds.
- Red parachute or rocket – capable of attracting attention in daylight for up to 10 miles depending on conditions and up to 40 miles at night. The rocket launches the flare up to a height of about 300 meters and the flare burns for 40-60 seconds as it slowly descends. But don't use this type of flare when there is a helicopter or aircraft overhead.