Expired handheld flares

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by Man in qajaq, Nov 1, 2019.

  1. Man in qajaq

    Man in qajaq Paddler

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    I've had two expired flares amongst my gear for years now. Expired 2004.
    As there were fireworks in the air last night (halloween) I decided to use them and see if they still worked.
    They worked fine. One had a bit more 'bang' than the other, but it had slightly less height than the quieter flare.
    I'm wondering, how many of you carry expired flares?
     
    chodups likes this.
  2. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    Probably..........
     
  3. jamonte

    jamonte Paddler

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    I routinely carry two large parachute flares that "expired" in 2004. I check them regularly to make sure they are still sealed and that the pull cords are in perfect shape. I also have 3 or 4 pencil flares of the same vintage, but I don't usually carry them. Instead, I carry one of those signal lasers (in my PFD), as well as my VHF radio (in my PFD), and a satellite messenger in a bail-out bag (if I'm in a remote area.)

    Back around 2002, I went to a Coast Guard event at Birch Bay, WA where you were allowed to fire off your own "expired" flares. The CG also had several boxes of expired flares that had been donated to them for training. Every single one of my own "expired" flares worked perfectly except the one that had a visibly corroded pull cord. And every single "expired" flare I pulled from the box also fired, though some were definitely more bright than others. The oldest flare I fired that night had expired in 1947, so it was 55 years past it's due date when I pulled the cord. That one lit off more like a Roman candle than a flare, with tons of sparks and smoke galore. Fun night! I can't believe the lawyers let them do it!

    Just for clarity, I'm not saying you can count on expired flares to work, but if you inspect them regularly, and have back-up means of signalling for help, I see no reason to keep replacing them all the time. The expiration dates are there to keep commercial vessels up to code and for that reason, I think they have a huge safety factor built into them.
     
  4. Man in qajaq

    Man in qajaq Paddler

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    ...now I need to purchase new flares...
    Lol
     
  5. Peter-CKM

    Peter-CKM Paddler

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    Does Canada have a requirement for paddlers to carry flares? No such requirement in the States, so I don't carry any.
     
  6. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    There's no requirement for kayakers to carry flares in Canada, either.
    I don't carry flares in my PFD; I have a few in my emergency/first aid drybag.
    When I had a sailboat, I learned that the smaller flares were pretty much useless, unless somebody already knew where to look. Larger (SOLAS-type) parachute flares - which are effective- are just too large for me to consider for kayaking. But I carry a few small (expired) flares anyway.
    I think the laser 'flare' would be useful in guiding a rescuer or attracting attention, but I don't have space for it in my PFD.
    I depend on the whistle,VHF radio (fully charged, not used for chit-chat) and the PLB in the PFD for emergencies.

    Sorry to get off-topic!

    About the expiry date issue - there are lots of reports of expired flares that work well, so I don't worry about replacing them.
     
  7. Man in qajaq

    Man in qajaq Paddler

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    I agree with John about the smaller handheld flares being useless for gaining attention.
    The first bit of sound advice I heard about flares was " you only fire them after you hear the sound of the helicopter."
     
    JohnAbercrombie likes this.
  8. Jasper

    Jasper Paddler

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    Portland, OR, US
    Small correction: in the US there is no requirement to carry day signals. When operating after sunset you are required to carry approved night signals (flares)