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Old 30-04-2020, 14:50   #1
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Current and Expired Flares in same Box?

I remember being told that the USCG will be upset and maybe issue a citation to a boat owner who keeps expired flares in the same container as current flares.

Is that true?

I have a large collection of expired SOLAS flares of many, very expensive types, which I keep in a big dry box marked "Old Flares." Adjacent to that dry box is a small one containing the minimum necessary current flares. Both boxes sit on a shelf in my shop, under the workbench at the bottom of the companionway.

Am I inviting USCG/Florida Wildlife/Local Sheriff trouble by keeping the expired and current flares so close together?
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Old 30-04-2020, 14:59   #2
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Re: Current and Expired Flares in same Box?

Not sure, but I purchased a Greatland green signal laser to have in addition to the traditional type flares. Itís freaking amazing...easily visible in full sunlight from nearly 2 miles away. At night itís like holding a light saber. And 5 hours of run time on a single battery vs. a traditional flare...seemed like a no-brainer item to have in your ditch bag.
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Old 30-04-2020, 15:03   #3
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Re: Current and Expired Flares in same Box?

Expired flares may be carried but cannot be counted toward meeting the visual distress signal requirement.
https://www.uscgboating.org/images/420.PDF
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Old 30-04-2020, 15:31   #4
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Re: Current and Expired Flares in same Box?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
I remember being told that the USCG will be upset and maybe issue a citation to a boat owner who keeps expired flares in the same container as current flares.

Is that true?

I have a large collection of expired SOLAS flares of many, very expensive types, which I keep in a big dry box marked "Old Flares." Adjacent to that dry box is a small one containing the minimum necessary current flares. Both boxes sit on a shelf in my shop, under the workbench at the bottom of the companionway.

Am I inviting USCG/Florida Wildlife/Local Sheriff trouble by keeping the expired and current flares so close together?
No problem having them close together, just so long as when the boarding officer asks to see your flares, you hand him the box that contains only a full compliment of in-date flares.

We keep our out-of-date flares in a water tight box, and our in-date ones in the ditch bag.

FWIW, I have occasionally fired off flares as old as 15 years that were stored dry on board, and never had a failure.
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Old 30-04-2020, 16:16   #5
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Re: Current and Expired Flares in same Box?

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Originally Posted by SVHarmonie View Post
No problem having them close together, just so long as when the boarding officer asks to see your flares, you hand him the box that contains only a full compliment of in-date flares.

We keep our out-of-date flares in a water tight box, and our in-date ones in the ditch bag.

FWIW, I have occasionally fired off flares as old as 15 years that were stored dry on board, and never had a failure.
This USCG pamphlet makes no mention of the requirement to keep current and out of date visual distress signals separate. Do you have a source for your information?
https://www.uscgboating.org/images/420.PDF
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Old 30-04-2020, 16:34   #6
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Re: Current and Expired Flares in same Box?

in oz there is no regulation about keeping old & current flares seperate

we always keep the old ones for years and all the crew have strict instructions that in event of emergency, to check the use by-date...and use the old ones first

cheers,
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Old 30-04-2020, 17:18   #7
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Re: Current and Expired Flares in same Box?

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Originally Posted by SVHarmonie View Post
No problem having them close together, just so long as when the boarding officer asks to see your flares, you hand him the box that contains only a full compliment of in-date flares.

We keep our out-of-date flares in a water tight box, and our in-date ones in the ditch bag.

FWIW, I have occasionally fired off flares as old as 15 years that were stored dry on board, and never had a failure.
Me too, although I once nearly set my house on fire on July 4th!
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Old 30-04-2020, 18:21   #8
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Re: Current and Expired Flares in same Box?

I believe if you got a difficult inspector handing a box of flares to inspect that contained expired flares, he could write you up, even if you had enough good ones.
Having them in a box marked “expired flares” I don’t see how they could argue with that, cause an issue with expired flares is how do you dispose of them? You can’t throw them away as they are hazardous, can’t throw them overboard as they are apparently very bad for the environment, can’t shoot them off, so keeping them in a box that is labeled as expired is logical.

Yeah I know sometimes a Coast Guard station will take them and I assume you may be able to dispose of them as hazardous waste, but neither is simple, especially for a cruiser that has no car etc.
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Old 30-04-2020, 18:57   #9
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Re: Current and Expired Flares in same Box?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orion Jim View Post
This USCG pamphlet makes no mention of the requirement to keep current and out of date visual distress signals separate. Do you have a source for your information?
https://www.uscgboating.org/images/420.PDF
It might be taken to read in a couple of different ways, but it looks like it's in 33 CFR Subpart C Sec. 175.125, which says:

175.125 Serviceability.

No person may use a boat unless each

signal required by ß175.110 is in service-

able condition and the service life of

the signal, if indicated by a date

marked on the signal, has not expired.
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Old 01-05-2020, 09:54   #10
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Re: Current and Expired Flares in same Box?

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post

Yeah I know sometimes a Coast Guard station will take them and I assume you may be able to dispose of them as hazardous waste, but neither is simple, especially for a cruiser that has no car etc.
I think that the Coast Guard uses "donated" expired flares for exercise purposes. And I bet that they ALWAYS work.

Has anyone ever tried a long expired flare and had a dud?

I use mine on May 24 (Canada). Great fun.
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Old 01-05-2020, 10:02   #11
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Re: Current and Expired Flares in same Box?

I was boarded a few years ago and directed them to the safety cabinet where such stuff is stored. They found flares 3 months expired. I knew I had non-expired flares but didn’t immediately remember that they were in my ditch bag which was in a different location. They were ok as long as I had good ones and I passed 100%.
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Old 01-05-2020, 10:04   #12
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Re: Current and Expired Flares in same Box?

I am a certified USPS VE (Vessel Examiner). We recommend that you always have the current (unexpired) flares kept handy. Expired flares can be aboard, but stored separately. If you want to get rid of old flares, many squadrons will accept them for "demonstration purposes." We utilize them for training, by allowing everyone to practice igniting them, and showing how care must be taken about how to hold them.
The oldest flares that we tested at our last demonstration (September 2019) were expired in 1988, and they fired right up and burned just as brightly and as long as brand new ones!
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Old 01-05-2020, 10:16   #13
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Re: Current and Expired Flares in same Box?

When having a scheduled CG Aux safety inspection at the dock the examiner did not express any problem expired flares in the same waterproof box, just that it was easily discernable which were current.
A CG Cutter was anchored outside the harbor once and as I approached to enter they launched a boat to intercept and do a "boarding". They actually didn't board but drove along behind and did a safety inspection while directing me to continue on. I held up extinguishers, pfd's etc. I told them my flares were out of date, they said "how much" I said about a month, sorry. They said "no problem there's a 90 day grace period", never seen anything official saying that and maybe he was just cutting me a break.
The first thing required was ship's papers and personal ID, which included a FEMA ID identifying me as an officer with a first responder agency. They might not be so open minded if you don't have a badge that says you outrank them.
Our local Aux. used to have an annual expired flare shoot out, the only complete duds were some weird little ones from the 60's designed to be carried on PFD's. They didn't appear to have been approved by anyone when new, and even then only half of them failed.
And I must add that shooting one of those 12 ga flare guns over the open ocean on a moonless night is the most disappointing pyrotechnics exercise I ever engaged in.
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Old 01-05-2020, 10:34   #14
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Re: Current and Expired Flares in same Box?

We did some new USCG AUX crew member training at the Chetco River CG station in Brookings, OR many years ago.

The trainer fired off an aerial flare and of course is landed in a nearby lumber yard across a channel and set the grass on fire.
The station's duty crew manned the fire equipment vehicle and drove to the yard and quickly put out the fire.
Aerials have a mind of their own in windy conditions.
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Old 01-05-2020, 10:38   #15
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Re: Current and Expired Flares in same Box?

Our yacht club sponsors a biennial "flare off" in which out-of-date flares collected by the club steward are fired off at the club's dock. All local authorities are told of the event beforehand: coast guard, police, fire dept., ferry captain; plus a vhf securite call is made.

Good opportunity for flare newbies---crew, older children, squeamish spouses---to learn how to handle and shed their fear of using flares.

And, yes, we've had duds.
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