Where Should Distress Flares Be Stored?

Distress flares are an extremely important, but often forgotten safety measure. Emergency distress flares can save your life if you ever have a boating emergency, are lost out in the wilderness, are broken down on an unknown road far away from civilization, or any situation where you need to be seen from very far away. There are safety measures to consider when storing these life-saving tools: where should distress flares be stored?

Distress Flares for Boats or Aircraft out on Open Water

Battery Powered Signal-Flare:

This Odeo MK3 LED Distress flare is powered by battery rather than needing to be lit. That means it doesn’t come with the hassle of storing a flare with a fuse and it burns a lot longer. It illuminates areas for up to 6 hours.  Its lack of combustible components means it’s also safe to carry aboard your aircraft, no special HAZMAT procedures necessary.

The Rocket Parachute Flare:

This flare creates a single red star and reaches up to 984 feet (that’s 300 meters), then slowly parachutes back down to the water. It burns for 40 seconds, and it can easily be seen from the air or ground.

Orange Smoke Signal:

These smoke signals create plumes of dense orange smoke that can easily be seen when the sun is shining. These are meant to be used during daylight hours only!

The Multi Star Flare:

This flare creates two or more red stars. It reaches heights of up to 328 feet (100 meters) then burns for 4 to 5 seconds. This is a bit flashier and gets attention much quicker, but it burns out quite a bit faster.

The Hand Flare:

You hold this flare in your hand, so the visibility from the ground is limited. However it get’s attention by air very easily and it burns the longest of all the flares for 60 seconds – a full minute. This is best used in a situation where you are relying on rescue by air, via helicopter or plane.

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Where Should Distress Flares Be Stored?

Some boat manufacturers provide built-in storage compartments for flares, but for those of you who built your own boat or who don’t have built-in storage, here’s a few common-sense rules on where distress flares should be stored. There are strict regulations on the type and number of flares required to be carried, but no such written rules for storage.

  1. Flares should be stored in a vertical position in a cool and dry area. Do not store them next to the motor, near a cooking devise, or by anything that uses or creates heat. Excessive heat could create a premature ignition of the flare.

  2. Flares can be stored in boats that have a clear window storage compartment. You don’t want to store distress flares anywhere they can not be readily seen. You may know where they are, but if you’re incapacitated other parties may not and there may not be time to rummage around looking for them.

  3. Flares and other pyrotechnic signals should be stored in a waterproof container. If you have any extra ammunition boxes lying around, these are perfect for storing flares.

  4. The container must remain closed, but never locked. It shouldn’t be hard to get to and use your distress flare should the need arise for it.

  5. Whatever watertight container you use, the container should be painted bright red or orange and clearly marked “Distress Signals”

  6. Flares must be readily accessible. If you are not storing them in a clear container, be sure the location is clearly marked “Distress Signals Storage.”

  7. The storage container needs to be routinely checked for moisture or other negative factors. If the integrity of your container is compromised, get a new one. You don’t want to have an emergency and find you have soggy flares.



Where Should Distress Flares Be Stored? NOT HERE!!

Additional Safety Tips Beyond Where Should Distress Flares Be Stored:

  1. Routinely check the expiration dates of all flares… Make a note in your calendar and replace it before the expiration date.

  2. Make sure you and your normal passengers know how to operate all the flares. Every person on board needs to know what to do. 

  3. Keep a watertight flashlight with extra batteries on the boat at all times. It can be used to signal SOS without having to light off a flare. Three short, three long, three short … pause … repeat

Now that you know where distress flares should be stored, make sure you actually follow through and buy a distress flare for your boat. You’ll also need to know what signals to use and make in an emergency situation.

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