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Old 02-11-2017, 15:59   #1
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disposing of OOD flares

I tried searching for an answer but failed: what's to be done with a stack of very outdated flares (some from as far back as 1980s)? I guess this is almost an annual requirement for some but our recently acquired boat has so many old flares/smokes it could be considered a safety hazard.

(With Guy Fawkes in a few days, I hoped the cruising club might use some in their fireworks display but they don't seem keen.)
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Old 02-11-2017, 16:15   #2
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Re: disposing of OOD flares

Not official in any way. I make family and friends (usual crew members)
familiarize themselves on how to light, how to hold, etc. flares, using the
expired flares. Try to do every year so that if the time comes to use
for real we may not burn a hole in the liferaft.
Here in states, do on July 4th, our independence day. Meet with less resistance.
Old outdated ones almost always light, so keep (as well as current ones)
in ditch bag, dinghy, on board.
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Old 02-11-2017, 16:58   #3
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Re: disposing of OOD flares

When we bought our boat last year there were about a dozen expired flares aboard. I called our Fire Marshall’s Office. They said soak the flares in water for several hours then put them in the trash. I soaked them overnight and put them in the trash. No garbage trucks ignited so I guess it worked.
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Old 02-11-2017, 19:14   #4
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Re: disposing of OOD flares

We were given a 6 man Avon canister liferaft from 1970 back in 1991 when we were preparing to sail to Mexico.
We fired it off in our back yard to see if it worked (it did, but bad advice to do that).
Bottom line was, repacked it and kept the old SOLAS flares.
On July 4th of that year, we fired them off over Seattle's Lake Washington.
They all fired normally.
Parachute flares floated for about 3 minutes each.
Nobody called the CG as they were mixed into all the normal July 4th stuff.
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Old 03-11-2017, 09:03   #5
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Re: disposing of OOD flares

Keep them....they'll probably work and you never know how many you could use.
Bill



Quote:
Originally Posted by NevisDog View Post
I tried searching for an answer but failed: what's to be done with a stack of very outdated flares (some from as far back as 1980s)? I guess this is almost an annual requirement for some but our recently acquired boat has so many old flares/smokes it could be considered a safety hazard.

(With Guy Fawkes in a few days, I hoped the cruising club might use some in their fireworks display but they don't seem keen.)
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Old 03-11-2017, 09:16   #6
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Re: disposing of OOD flares

There have been stories of cruisers being fined PER FLARE for any found out-of-date in Portuguese waters.
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Old 03-11-2017, 09:33   #7
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Re: disposing of OOD flares

DO NOT fire off rocket or parachute flares in a marina environment. A burning flare landing on another boat can cause a catastrophe.

Our local county run recycle center will take expired flares - no fee. If you have such a place nearby call and ask.
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Old 03-11-2017, 09:39   #8
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Re: disposing of OOD flares

I went on line and asked the same question. Take them to your local fire department. Ironically, the day I researched this, I ran into a Fire Department inspector at our local mall and posed the same question. He said the same. Just take them to your local station and they will dispose for you!
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Old 03-11-2017, 09:48   #9
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Re: disposing of OOD flares

Our local Coast Guard Aux. used to have an annual expired flare shoot off, maybe check with your local equivalent agency.
Effectiveness depends on what they are and how they were stored, SOLAS stuff is probably good. Olin 12 ga. pistol rounds probably 90% good back to 80's, smokes and handheld flares probably good if kept dry. Some "unusual" stuff from the 70's and 80's had high failure rates and were ineffective, small handheld aerials for vests etc. If it was "weird" and no longer manufactured there appeared to be high failure rate.
The 12 ga pistol flares commonly found here are incredibly disappointing when you shoot one off over a dark ocean, just a dismal short lived feeble light that doesn't even get much elevation.
A local fishing boat sank a few years ago and a retired dentist with a bladder problem looked out his bathroom window and happened to see them shoot off their last white practice flare. So yeah, I carry extras but you do need to winnow them out occasionally.
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Old 03-11-2017, 09:48   #10
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Re: disposing of OOD flares

Quote:
Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
On July 4th of that year, we fired them off over Seattle's Lake Washington.
They all fired normally.
Parachute flares floated for about 3 minutes each.
Nobody called the CG as they were mixed into all the normal July 4th stuff.
Not a good night for a sailor to be in distress on Lake Washington!! 😂😂😂
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Old 03-11-2017, 10:21   #11
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Re: disposing of OOD flares

Our local yacht club gets permission from the local US Coast Guard to have a practice night annually. They usually invite the boating community over for a brief lecture by some knowledgeable old salt about using flares, and then go outside for a shoot. Announcing this over the local VHF (particularly when initiated by USCG call sign) erases concerns about false alarms. It's a free event and really instructive. After seeing one of the hand-helds or 12-gauge guns, you will invest the $50 for the SOLAS stuff - pitiful. BTW, really suggest you use work gloves before you hold a hand-held, the slag is hot (don't ask how I know). You can then just throw the empties away in the trash.
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Old 03-11-2017, 10:42   #12
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Re: disposing of OOD flares

Lots of great suggestions. To clarify, I sorted through the collection and sorted them into two large watertight containers of "OOD" and "ridiculously OOD" (none current) so I want to empty one container and buy some new ones. Seems a shame to drown them and trash them. I'm waiting to hear from local coastguard if they will take any for practice (I believe they get offered too many though); I can see why cruising club don't want them among their Guy Fawkes night fireworks so close to the marina; if all else fails I can keep them until I find some club that wants to practice with them (or until I really need all of them, some dark and stormy night).

Glad I'm not in Portuguese waters with this lot!
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Old 03-11-2017, 11:05   #13
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Re: disposing of OOD flares

I shot off the worst ones last new year's eve (far too dry around here in July.)

Observation 1: The ubiquitous plastic 12-gauge pistol did not actually work. The firing pin did not touch the cartridge. It took half an hour of screwing around with it to get the pin to move. Not something to depend on in an emergency.

Observation 2: The old 12-gauge flares either detonated anemically at low altitude or actually exploded within the gun without launching. Fortunately I was wearing welder's gloves for this exercise.

Conclusion 1: Ditch the cool-looking but useless flare gun and put money into SOLAS parachute flares. Which brings up a new problem because they are a bit awkward to store on board, not to mention pricey. I decided to just buy one each year so no more than one will go OOD at a time.

Conclusion 2: If OOD pyrotechnics are kept, take great pains to prevent them from adsorbing moisture. Desicant, zip-locs, etc.

Also: For compliance purposes, I bought one of those new flashlight thingies. Doesn't go out of date and probably isn't less visible than the 12-gauge shells.
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Old 03-11-2017, 11:39   #14
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Re: disposing of OOD flares

I've seen a small dumpster at a number of USCG stations that is marked for expired pyrotechnics. I assume the USCG resells them on Craigslist.(G)

Soaking them in water and then putting them in the trash probably is a hazmat violation, not to mention, some EPA problem because of the toxic metals that may be in them. Your town probably has hazardous waste collection days--and possibly fees for that. Your local fire station might take them, or just look at you funny.

If they've just been sitting around they may be dead. Old flares die from oxygen and moisture, so they may not work. But properly sealed up and stored, some of them might. Good practice, good 4th of July...with common sense they can be put to use. If you've never actually fired and SEEN a 12g flare versus a handheld launcher, one after the other, you won't really appreciate just how feeble the 12g is. Or how weak either of them really is.
A little common sense, and explore your local options. They'll vary.
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Old 03-11-2017, 13:47   #15
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Re: disposing of OOD flares

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Originally Posted by Dr. D View Post
... I called our Fire Marshall’s Office. They said soak the flares in water for several hours then put them in the trash. ...
I'd be curious to know if that actually kills them. I bet some flares can be soaked for hours and still ignite. I may have to play around with some of my "Ridiculously OOD"s.
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