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Question About Flares

Old 08-02-2020, 05:33 PM
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My flares just expired and I was wondering if there is a number of flares you must have in order to be legal if stopped? I feel like putting expiration dates on these flares is a scam and just a way to keep you having to buy them. I have a bunch of the expired hand held flares that I keep on board and they work fine even way after expiration date.

Can I just buy 1 flare and as long as 1 flare is not expired am I good?
Old 08-02-2020, 05:39 PM
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Visual Distress Signal

Required on the high sea and coastal waters only.

Must carry visual distress signal for both day and nighttime use.

NOTE: Coastal waters means the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and all bays, sounds, harbors, rivers, inlets, etc. where any entrance is over 2 miles wide to the first point where the distance between shorelines narrows to 2 miles.

I just found this on FWC's page. What qualifies for a visual distress signal? Do they make a "visual distress" signal that doesn't expire?
Old 08-02-2020, 05:54 PM
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USCG requirement for vessels 16' in length or more:

Minimum of three day-use and three night-use or three day/night combination pyrotechnic devices.
Non-pyrotechnic substitutes: 1 orange flag (day-use) and 1 electric S-O-S signal light (night-use)

Individual State & local requirements may differ.
Old 08-03-2020, 06:44 AM
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I bit the bullet and bought one of the signal lights; lasts forever with an annual battery change and cost about the price of 2 sets of flares when on sale. I got a warning citation once for having some expired along with my in-date flares. The officer said they were dangerous because I might mix them up with the good ones and they might not light. Interestingly, the law requires 3 flares and all the packages now are 4 to a pack! Manufacturer needs to make a buck I guess.
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Old 08-03-2020, 10:01 AM
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Carry your expired flares separately from your signal light and orange flag. Dont even pull them out when checked. They are for your peace of mind and not required if you have the appropriate substitutes.
Old 08-03-2020, 04:19 PM
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I got one of these a few years back. Still have the old flares just in case, but this gets me legal.


https://www.westmarine.com/buy/orion...yABEgLAbvD_BwE
Old 08-03-2020, 07:12 PM
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Get a battery powered SOS light....meets requirements for flares....never buy flares again....
Old 08-05-2020, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Limitless View Post
I bit the bullet and bought one of the signal lights; lasts forever with an annual battery change and cost about the price of 2 sets of flares when on sale. I got a warning citation once for having some expired along with my in-date flares. The officer said they were dangerous because I might mix them up with the good ones and they might not light. Interestingly, the law requires 3 flares and all the packages now are 4 to a pack! Manufacturer needs to make a buck I guess.
That's funny, I had the opposite experience with FWC. I told them I keep the expired ones because they still work and it gives me extra flares, he said that was a good idea.
Old 08-05-2020, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Ricci View Post
That's funny, I had the opposite experience with FWC. I told them I keep the expired ones because they still work and it gives me extra flares, he said that was a good idea.
I think it all depends on who stops you and what kind of mood they are in. I've got the Weems and Plath S-O-S light as well as expired flares and the orange flag. I think I might get some daytime flares as I rarely run at night and that orange flag is too small to be of any value.
Old 08-05-2020, 07:09 AM
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the easy way to do it is buy the flares at Walmart and put a reminder in your phone when they will expire. If you ever need that "light: flare I dont think anyone would come to your aid.
Old 08-05-2020, 08:18 AM
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I did what others have done and bought the SOS light. I also keep expired flares, and when I have the wherewithal to do it, I buy an new set to replace them. Day in, day out, the light ensure that I'm compliant 100% of the time.
Old 08-05-2020, 02:08 PM
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I also purchased the SOS light I think it ran like $85 and as others have posted never have to buy flares again.
Old 08-05-2020, 04:52 PM
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Never hurts to have flares on board. If properly stored, they will be good for at least 3-4 years past expiration
Of course, flares only last a minute or two, so a typical package of four gives you less than 10 minutes of emergency beacon. With fairly fresh batteries, the S-O-S light will run all night and on a clear night can be seen for at least several miles.
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Old 08-05-2020, 07:15 PM
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You can't keep expired flares on the boat. As a kid my dad would never dispose of them on the commercial boat. He got a few warnings from the coasties. He always said he would start with the ones from 1984 and work from there. At some point he gave me about 25 years of expired flares. I was firing flares from the 80's in 2010 to light bonfires. I would say at least 90% worked. All stored in those orange boxes.
Old 08-07-2020, 02:07 PM
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Last 4th of July I pulled out the expired (2-15 years old) flare kits. The handhelds burned fine but the striker end was iffy. Some didnt have enough rough surface to light them but when lite they burned bright! The aerial flares sucked! especially the smaller sized (non HD) ones. Out of 15 or so only a few had a visual report, most never illuminated at all and they all fell back down so fast that unless looking directly at them they were not going to call attention to you. The longer HD 12 gauge flares were a bit better. They all had a visual report and a bit longer hang time but still be concerned noone would see them unless looking directly at them.
The orange signal flares were the best. They smoked like crazy.
I'm on 40 acres in the country so no issues sending them up. None of the aerials made it higher than 100' anyway.

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