Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 21-06-2019, 06:54   #1
Registered User
 
svHyLyte's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Tampa Bay area, USA
Boat: Beneteau First 42
Posts: 3,933
Images: 25
FYI Signal Flare Service Life

In short: Make sure of the expiration dates of signal flares when buying replacements. Do not accept flares that have less than at least 3 years of "legal" life span remaining. They are expensive and one should try to get the longest serviceable life span possible given their cost.

Discussion: As we routinely travel off-shore as well as in-shore, our safety equipment includes a fairly hefty visual distress signals kit in several air-tight containers. (One for the "mother ship", one for the dinghy and a third in our "ditch bag" tethered to our life-raft.)

As a matter of routine, I check/inspect all of our safety gear annually, in June, to ensure that everything is up to date to ensure the greatest likelihood that things will function properly when needed (and, but less so, to ensure we're up-to-snuff in the unlikely event we're subjected to a US Coast Guard Safety Inspection).

In the USA, signal flares intended for marine use have expiration dates 42 months after their date of manufacture; and, after which the USCG considers they do not meet legal requirements (although they almost invariably work long after their expiration dates!). The foregoing means, of course, that one must replace one's signals at least every three years.

Our signals are now "out of date" so on my way home from the boat yesterday, I stopped by my local West Marine outlet to pick up replacements. Much to my surprise, the packages of 25mm aerial flares on the shelf had expiration dates of August 2020! In other words, only 14 months of "legal" service life remaining. Considering that a 4-Pack of these flares is priced at $85.00 USD (or $21.25/flare)--and we need two packs--that would be a substantial investment for only 14 months, No?

The Store Manager agreed and has ordered replacements for us but assured me that if they arrive with less than 36 months of service life remaining we can refuse them (tho' finding more up-to-date replacements may prove problematic given our locale).

N'any case, FWIW...
__________________

__________________
"It is not so much for its beauty that the Sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."
svHyLyte is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21-06-2019, 08:44   #2
Registered User
 
wingless's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2013
Boat: 2000 Searay 380 Sundancer
Posts: 812
Re: FYI Signal Flare Service Life

There are two LED flares that do not expire and meet the USCG requirements.

The Weems & Plath Sirius LED Flare and the Orion LEDSOS Beacon are both good battery powered alternative to satisfy the USCG flare requirement.

IMO the Orion is very well-built, w/ a nice reflective perimeter tape and a push button on / off switch. It takes two D cell batteries on an annual replacement.

The Sirius is very nice, smaller, w/ a twist on / off mechanism. It takes three C cell batteries on an annual replacement.

The Sirius may be completely disassembled, the Orion cannot.

The Orion has a five year prorated warranty. The Sirius has a lifetime warranty.

The Sirius is my selection when my current flares expire because of the warranty and because of the ability to disassemble.
__________________

__________________
2000 SeaRay 380 Sundancer Mercruiser
454 MAG MPI Horizon 380hp / Westerbeke 7.0KW BCGB
many cool mods
wingless is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2019, 05:17   #3
Registered User

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Southport CT
Boat: J/36
Posts: 1,207
Re: FYI Signal Flare Service Life

Quote:
Originally Posted by wingless View Post
There are two LED flares that do not expire and meet the USCG requirements.
The Orion has a five year prorated warranty. The Sirius has a lifetime warranty.

The Sirius is my selection when my current flares expire because of the warranty and because of the ability to disassemble.
If you drown because either one doesn't work, do you get your money back, or do they send you a new one?
psk125 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2019, 05:25   #4
Registered User
 
wingless's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2013
Boat: 2000 Searay 380 Sundancer
Posts: 812
Re: FYI Signal Flare Service Life

Quote:
Originally Posted by psk125 View Post
If you drown because either one doesn't work, do you get your money back, or do they send you a new one?
They offer a better warranty than on the pyrotechnic flares.
__________________
2000 SeaRay 380 Sundancer Mercruiser
454 MAG MPI Horizon 380hp / Westerbeke 7.0KW BCGB
many cool mods
wingless is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2019, 06:24   #5
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Vancouver B.C.Canada
Boat: Macgregor 26S
Posts: 236
Images: 1
Send a message via MSN to BugzyCan
Re: FYI Signal Flare Service Life

When my current flares expire, I will move to these permanent solutions. Far safer, and less impact on environment. No dangerous goods disposal afterwards, and no expiry dates.
BugzyCan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2019, 06:38   #6
Registered User
 
svHyLyte's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Tampa Bay area, USA
Boat: Beneteau First 42
Posts: 3,933
Images: 25
Re: FYI Signal Flare Service Life

As a substitute for hand held pyrotechnic flares, LED and Laser Spectrum "flares" may be suitable. Aerial flares are another matter. A 25mm aerial flare can be seen for upwards of 35 miles (and the US Coast Guard suggests they be launched in pairs of two in quick succession) in day-light or darkness. Burn times are somewhat limited but less so with the SOLAS parachute flares. When 50 or more miles off-shore and beyond VHF range, if needed I want flares that will be as widely visible as possible. N'any case, different ships/different long-splices. The notice was given for the benefit of those relying up pyrotechnic flares.


FWIW...
__________________
"It is not so much for its beauty that the Sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."
svHyLyte is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2019, 07:15   #7
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 40
Re: FYI Signal Flare Service Life

I just bought the Weems and Plath. The idea that they will fail and you will drown doesn't pass the makes-sense test to me. It's a whole lot easier to test the LED flair than test a pyrotechnic flair. Also, owning and LED flair doesn't prevent me from carrying all the other devices I choose.
Pelican_38 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-06-2019, 11:08   #8
Registered User
 
wingless's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2013
Boat: 2000 Searay 380 Sundancer
Posts: 812
Re: FYI Signal Flare Service Life

Note that West Marine has an Independence Day LED and pyrotechnic flare sale from June 27 through July 7. The Orion LED flare is discounted during those dates.
__________________
2000 SeaRay 380 Sundancer Mercruiser
454 MAG MPI Horizon 380hp / Westerbeke 7.0KW BCGB
many cool mods
wingless is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-11-2019, 07:41   #9
Registered User
 
wingless's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2013
Boat: 2000 Searay 380 Sundancer
Posts: 812
Re: FYI Signal Flare Service Life

Quote:
Originally Posted by wingless View Post
There are two LED flares that do not expire and meet the USCG requirements.

The Weems & Plath Sirius LED Flare and the Orion LEDSOS Beacon are both good battery powered alternative to satisfy the USCG flare requirement.

IMO the Orion is very well-built, w/ a nice reflective perimeter tape and a push button on / off switch. It takes two D cell batteries on an annual replacement.

The Sirius is very nice, smaller, w/ a twist on / off mechanism. It takes three C cell batteries on an annual replacement.

The Sirius may be completely disassembled, the Orion cannot.

The Orion has a five year prorated warranty. The Sirius has a lifetime warranty.

The Sirius is my selection when my current flares expire because of the warranty and because of the ability to disassemble.
FYI, the Weems & Plath Sirius electronic flare is on-sale (first time I've seen) for $20 off at West Marine from November 14 through 24. I will purchase mine in that date range.
__________________
2000 SeaRay 380 Sundancer Mercruiser
454 MAG MPI Horizon 380hp / Westerbeke 7.0KW BCGB
many cool mods
wingless is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-11-2019, 08:31   #10
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 1,443
Re: FYI Signal Flare Service Life

The problem I have with an LED flare is whether the person seeing it recognized it for what it is. I see them used more frequently as anchor line markers (by idiots :| )
Shrew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-11-2019, 08:36   #11
Moderator
 
a64pilot's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Jacksonville/ out cruising
Boat: Island Packet 38
Posts: 30,094
FYI Signal Flare Service Life

Only purpose for the LED flare is so that you can point to it during an inspection. (in my opinion) Iíd hate to think my life depended on a cute flashlight that flashes SOS.
My intent is before any real crossing, to purchase some actual SOLAS flares, perhaps vacuum bag them and keep until the next real crossing and if they are out of date, purchase more, but keep the old, and if they go out of date while coastal cruising, Iíll point to the LED flare and itís silly little plastic flag.
a64pilot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-11-2019, 08:56   #12
Registered User
 
wingless's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2013
Boat: 2000 Searay 380 Sundancer
Posts: 812
Re: FYI Signal Flare Service Life

Other benefits to an LED flare are that the illumination may be pointed at for 60 hours, long after the 2 or 3 minute pyrotechnic flare has burnt out and common replacement batteries may be installed to gain another 60 hours of operation.

Agreed that current date SOLAS flares should be part of the safety kit when operating well offshore.
__________________
2000 SeaRay 380 Sundancer Mercruiser
454 MAG MPI Horizon 380hp / Westerbeke 7.0KW BCGB
many cool mods
wingless is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-11-2019, 09:46   #13
Registered User
 
CaptTom's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Southern Maine
Boat: Prairie 36 Coastal Cruiser
Posts: 1,880
Re: FYI Signal Flare Service Life

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Only purpose for the LED flare is so that you can point to it during an inspection.
^^^This!

I've shot many expired flares during educational flare shoots, back before the lawyers stepped in and stopped that practice. Some were 10-15 years old. I've never seen a complete dud. No doubt if they'restored improperly, they can become waterlogged, but everyone I know keeps them in an ammo case or sealed container anyway.

That whole 3.5-year BS is right up there with the crap about changing your smoke detector batteries twice a year. I've had batteries last for 8+ years.

So you keep that stack of flares, shells, smokes and dye packets you've been gathering all these years, and buy one LED "flare" you can point at during boarding. You're just as safe as you ever were, but now you don't have to buy something you already have plenty of, every three years.

Take the money you save every three years and buy one real SOLAS parachute flare, instead of a pack of those "legal minimum" inland hand-helds. Now you're far safer than you were.
CaptTom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-11-2019, 09:52   #14
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Southern MD, Chesapeake Bay
Boat: Catalina & Maycraft
Posts: 955
Re: FYI Signal Flare Service Life

Same thing - believing traditional flares are likely functional beyond 36 months, I've saved most of mine after expiration. When the last batch expired, I bought the Weems & Plath LED. I have flares coming out my ears...
Hardhead is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-11-2019, 10:25   #15
Senior Cruiser
 
GordMay's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario - 48-29N x 89-20W
Boat: (Cruiser Living On Dirt)
Posts: 38,198
Images: 241
Re: FYI Signal Flare Service Life

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardhead View Post
... I have flares coming out my ears...
Thant sounds dangerous.
__________________

__________________
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"



GordMay is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
service

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Aqua Signal great service Sailing Drummer Marine Electronics 0 25-10-2017 19:46
For Sale: AST Overwater Deluxe Signal Kit w/ PLB & Rescue Laser Flare ASTBoone Classifieds Archive 0 24-09-2015 10:40
For Sale: OLIN 25MM and OLIN 12 Guage Signal Flare Launching Pistols hanks Classifieds Archive 1 01-03-2014 08:21
Flare and/or Flare Kit Storage off-the-grid Health, Safety & Related Gear 5 29-09-2009 08:00
Flare Gun, flares and smoke flare on a plane? sgtPluck Health, Safety & Related Gear 3 27-08-2008 17:16

Advertise Here


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 00:31.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.