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do flares go bad

Old 05-30-2020, 07:31 PM
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Default do flares go bad

the dates on my flares are a year old, do they go bad? if so how do you dispose of?
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Old 05-30-2020, 07:45 PM
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There is a “expiration date” on them. If they are beyond that the USCG won’t acknowledge them. Lots of people do still keep them aboard as “backups”. The older they get the more likely it will be that they won’t light off properly, so yes they do go bad. As to how long they will work beyond the expiration date, that’s a complete crap shoot. Some will work after years or decades, some won’t light off after just a few months past their date.
I think your local police or fire dept might accept them, or tell you how to dispose of them in your area.
Old 05-30-2020, 07:46 PM
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I keep older flares separate from the current ones. I have donated some to the USCG Auxiliary; they teach the boating classes, and part of that class is actually activating a flare, which is quite a learning experience. I had some that were 3-4 years out of date, and the Volunteer Fire Department took them.
Old 05-30-2020, 08:17 PM
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I keep some in all of my cars as roadside emergency flares. I even used one as a firestarter once while camping.
Old 05-30-2020, 08:26 PM
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Yes they go bad, I have seen them where they became granular/powdery.
Old 05-30-2020, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by weatherman View Post
I keep older flares separate from the current ones. I have donated some to the USCG Auxiliary; they teach the boating classes, and part of that class is actually activating a flare, which is quite a learning experience. I had some that were 3-4 years out of date, and the Volunteer Fire Department took them.
If you carry expired flares, they have to be stored separately from the current flares and clearly marked as "expired".
Old 05-30-2020, 08:35 PM
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In case you are not aware, check closely when you buy them, because many times the ones on the shelf are not far from expiration. That's all the more reason I have bought the new battery powered flares. That doesn't keep you from having the ones you have on hand, even if they are expired ones, but it saves you from not being legal if you get checked by the authorities.
Old 05-30-2020, 08:36 PM
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Shoot the expired flares off at July 4th as fireworks ,good practice that you pray you don’t have to do for real !
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Old 05-30-2020, 08:47 PM
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Last yr I tried to dispose of a bunch of expired flares. Stopped by local PD, sheriff, 3 different FD and the USCG which had a pyrotechnic disposal locker on site. Not one agency would accept them. I was told to have some fun with them in a safe way. Ended hp putting them in car trunk for road flare use.
Old 05-30-2020, 08:55 PM
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No need to drop them off at the police station. Just dispose of them by popping them off at night. They bedazzle kids.
Old 05-30-2020, 09:15 PM
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You guys crack me up! Driving around and trying to give them to the fire dept like you got nuclear waste on board!

personally I use them as camp fire starters even though they stink.

and yeah, technically they “go bad” but it’s a racketeering scheme cause I’ve never seen a hand held flare fail and they can be 10 years old or more. It’s pretty simple technology. There’s not a lot to fail unless you’ve left them out in the elements.
Old 05-30-2020, 09:34 PM
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I can assure you they do go bad, first hand knowledge when I needed them after floating for a day when I was a kid. About 3 years Past expiration stored in a humid environment and none worked.
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Old 05-30-2020, 09:51 PM
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So a few months ago I had some flares from my old mako. The pistol shot type. They were from 1976! Each one still fired no problems. We did this for sh1t$ and giggles. So I really don't think they go bad if there kept dry. I have seen the stick type breakdown after while. But hey I wouldn't throw away old ones if your in a real emergency they will most likely still work beyond the expiration . Keep in mind you still have to get new ones for coast guard standards.
Old 05-30-2020, 09:55 PM
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After over 20 years of storing my old expired flares, I decided to test them...on the night of the 4th of July of course. The ones up to 10 years old worked fine. The older ones were hit and miss. I had both hand-held and aerial types. This was in 2010.
Old 05-30-2020, 10:04 PM
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Sorry if I am taking this off on a tangent. Do you actually have to have flares on your boat (offshore)? I believe that you just need to have a daytime signalling device and a night-time signalling device. I bought a red flag for daytime, and have two spotlights for nighttime signalling. Am I okay, or did I read the rules wrong?

Well shoot. I just found a regulation that states that the night-time device must be marked as meeting the USCG requirements.
Old 05-30-2020, 10:18 PM
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Rickpcfl, It depends on what you have. Around 2017 the U.S. Coast Guard approved the SOS Distress Light, pioneered by Sirius Signal and manufactured and distributed by Weems & Plath, making it the first electronic flare legally able to replace traditional pyrotechnic options. I believe Orion also makes one that is approved and there may be others. I have the Weems and Plath, but I also carry a set of SOLAS flares and a can of smoke with me.
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Old 05-30-2020, 11:01 PM
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To answer the original question, yes, they can go bad with age, but it can take a long time. I sent a couple nephews out with a tub of years old aerial flares and a very pistol and some fired properly, done did not fire at all, some fizzled.

By the way, do not shoot flares in the 4th of July; the Coast Guard, and other law enforcement agencies, have enough on their hands as is.
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Old 05-31-2020, 01:28 AM
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The whole flare out of date thing is quite complicated, and yes they do go bad, some quite quick, some last for years, and I have seen some melt into a blob, and one set ignite in the boat, disposing of flares should not be taken lightly.
Old 05-31-2020, 07:14 AM
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Thanks for all the replies, be safe every one
Old 05-31-2020, 08:19 AM
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Not that I have noticed, functionally at least. Couple years ago I found some that expired in 1982. Fired them off on the 4th of July on an inland lake (a small one where 99% of people thought they were fireworks) and they worked fine.

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