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Old 09-04-2016, 14:54   #1
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Outdated Flares - How old is old?

Hi All,
Any firemen out there with experience with old outdated flares? When buying new flares I keep my old ones for an extended emergency but I don't know how long they are stable or dependable. Can they get too old to work properly? Will they not work at all if too old? Will they burn down my boat? Will they burn me if I use them? You get the idea...what do you think?
Thanks,
Ross
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Old 09-04-2016, 16:19   #2
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Re: Outdated Flares - How old is old?

I think useable age has a lot to do with storage, if kept completely dry and maybe even with an 02 absorber in something like an ammo can, they may well last a very long time.
I do not believe there is a safety issue with keeping them, other than of course they are flammable material, but I do not think they will spontaneously combust or anything.
All this is just my opinion of course, but it may start a dialogue from those who know?


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Old 09-04-2016, 17:16   #3
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Re: Outdated Flares - How old is old?

Keep them. If you need them use the new ones first, then the old, then make a sacrifice to Neptune.

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Old 09-04-2016, 17:44   #4
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Re: Outdated Flares - How old is old?

I'll use the old ones first. For practice with the wife we just fired off a few oldest ones 10 year old worked fine. We did not shoot straight up but side ways away from the boat durring the day it Bounced along the water then sank. We were pretty isolated though.
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Old 09-04-2016, 18:21   #5
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Re: Outdated Flares - How old is old?

I had some older expired flares that came with my boat when I bought it, so I wanted to see what would happen when I fired them. I waited for July 4 when everyone was firing off fireworks. Only 1/2 of them fired, and they were only about 2 years out-of date.

I'd say keep them as backups, but don't expect them to work. They won't go off on their own, so they are not a safety hazard.
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Old 09-04-2016, 19:12   #6
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Re: Outdated Flares - How old is old?

I keep all my old flares, in fact I have far too many.

At our Sea Rescue group we 'collect', hmmm, maybe we are not allowed to collect, but we certainly keep a metal box full of old expired flares. We use these for demonstrations and 'try-outs'.
We do not use the ones that are visibly damaged or have been wet. If the flares look good, 95-99% of them still work as they are meant to be.
BTW for rocket flares demonstrations one needs official permission to fire these (in West Oz), for handheld flares permission may be needed as well, but not always sought I think.

I think the oldest flare fired was one of the sixties, but these older flares do not much for teaching demos, as the brand, shape and ways of ignition are different than current ones.
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Old 09-04-2016, 19:15   #7
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Re: Outdated Flares - How old is old?

About 4 years ago I went to a USPS course on a Saturday at the local US Coast Guard station. Part of the course was the firing of flares and we were invited to bring along our outdated flares. So I took about 18 12-gauge double flares, 6 plastic flares with a pull chain and 1 SOLAS rocket. All were 8 or 10 years old.

The Coast Guard wouldn't let me fire the SOLAS rocket because it would drift across the river into the next state, and they didn't want to set fire to it. Of the 6 plastic flares, the pull chain simply came off every one when I pulled it, not one worked. Of the 18 12-gauge double flares, one put up 1 flare and one put up its two flares. None of the rest worked.

I don't keep outdated small flares any more.
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Old 10-04-2016, 07:17   #8
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Re: Outdated Flares - How old is old?

We had several flares and smoke canisters from WW2 that we just got rid of - since the danger of old flares is unknown ad we have several modern variations of signaling devices, including the new electronic flare and the green laser, I can't see keeping more devices around than is absolutely necessary. When it comes time to cross and ocean, we will buy more updated flares.
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Old 10-04-2016, 09:08   #9
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Re: Outdated Flares - How old is old?

We tried using our out of date flares early last year - they had expired in excess of five years - only one parachute flare actually fired out of the tube but that did not ignite. All but one of the hand held flares worked corrrectly. The flares had all been kept in a sealed container and we had them as a back up but with the new flares also reaching their shelf life we thought we get rid of them. Now we need to get rid of another set of recently expired flares..........


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Originally Posted by rossny View Post
Hi All,
Any firemen out there with experience with old outdated flares? When buying new flares I keep my old ones for an extended emergency but I don't know how long they are stable or dependable. Can they get too old to work properly? Will they not work at all if too old? Will they burn down my boat? Will they burn me if I use them? You get the idea...what do you think?
Thanks,
Ross
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Old 10-04-2016, 09:14   #10
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Re: Outdated Flares - How old is old?

I think that when they hit the expiration date, they are old. Need to buy ones and the out of date ones kept as extras.
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Old 10-04-2016, 09:29   #11
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Re: Outdated Flares - How old is old?

Good information. Thanks.

I need to get new flares.
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Old 10-04-2016, 09:32   #12
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Re: Outdated Flares - How old is old?

The flares state depend on the environment they were kept in. Cool, dry - will keep for many years after formal expiration date.
Hot, wet - they may not even reach specified date.

Maltreated flares may work, may not work at all and may explode...

All seen in my humble experience.

In my sailing fraternity, we purchase new flares as the current stock expires - this is the law around here.
We notify local marine authorities and fire the expired units for training.
We usually do it using gardener gloves and goggles for safety.
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Old 10-04-2016, 09:56   #13
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Re: Outdated Flares - How old is old?

How do you dispose of old ones. By mistake I brought some home with other things I removes from the boat. I thought I would be a good citizen and called the fire department down the street asking how to safely dispose of them They didn't have a clue. (Nashville, TN) Thanks, Louise
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Old 10-04-2016, 10:10   #14
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Re: Outdated Flares - How old is old?

We pack all flares in vacuum pack "seal-a-meal" packs & store in the clean dry place. Some are 20 years old - still operable. Most practice sessions where people bring in old flares note that nearly all flares worked. I only keep the minimum CG required in-date stuff. Last year we bought an electric USCG approved LED replacement. I don't plan to buy new pyrotechnics for a while.
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Old 10-04-2016, 11:33   #15
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Re: Outdated Flares - How old is old?

We used old flares for the 4th, expired within a couple months, so we figured we'd test those dates. To our surprise only 2 of 8 worked. We then used some unexpired, pretty new ones, the results were about the same. No joke! I believe in multiple flares and types. Keep'em dry dry dry... Whistles, strobes but mostly keeping up the boat so flares hopefully not needed. IMHO.
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