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Old 06 November 2007, 04:22   #1
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Flares

I'm sure I'm going to get criticised for this , but it may just help somebody out one day so here goes !

I faithfully replaced my emergency flares this Spring because the old ones had just gone out of date . I've heard some stories about how flares can spew sparks etc all over your boat when used in earnest , so I took the opportunity last night of letting off my old stock . We ( my son , also a boater ) read all the instructions in the comfort of the kitchen , went outside and commenced the exercise . The first red smoke flare did exactly what it said on the packet . Vivid red flare , lots of smoke , lasted one minute . Great . The second orange smoke flare failed to go off at all ( expiry date June 2006 ) . Now the dodgy bit . Given that it was fireworks night , in outer London , several miles from the Thames , and thirty miles from the coast , I tried two parachute flares ( expiry dates Oct and Dec 2006 ) . I followed the instructions exactly but neither would launch at all .

I honestly expected that perhaps the odd flare would fail , but three out of four given the expiry dates , was a bit worrying . Anyone else like to comment ?

I keep my flares in a water-tight plastic container in the console during the boating season , and in a dry garage in the winter . Could condensation cause this failure rate ?

At the very least chaps , keeps your flares up to date , and try and keep them in good condition .

........stands back having lit blue touchpaper...........!
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Old 06 November 2007, 05:00   #2
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Originally Posted by Bern Hanreck View Post
Now the dodgy bit . Given that it was fireworks night , in outer London , several miles from the Thames , and thirty miles from the coast , I tried two parachute flares ( expiry dates Oct and Dec 2006 ) . I followed the instructions exactly but neither would launch at all .
As I guess you know, firing a distress flare without good cause is illegal.

Worse still, parachute flares are designed to keep burning well after they have come back down (supposedly in the sea). This means firing one on land is equivalent to starting a fire with incendiary explosives.

I would say that the people around you are very lucky that the parachutes did not fire. There is a photo on the net of a chap's boat in Southampton that was badly damaged by fire a day or so ago - when a para flare landed on it, he was lucky someone saw it and grabbed a hose; but the same would be true of a house, shed, car, hay-stack, etc etc etc.
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Old 06 November 2007, 05:27   #3
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Originally Posted by Bern Hanreck View Post
Now the dodgy bit . Given that it was fireworks night , in outer London , several miles from the Thames , and thirty miles from the coast , I tried two parachute flares ( expiry dates Oct and Dec 2006 ) . I followed the instructions exactly but neither would launch at all .
This is what might have happened!

http://www.ybw.com/forums/showflat.p...Number/1635857
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Old 06 November 2007, 05:42   #4
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And a link from the YBW thread:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/h...re/7078460.stm

The chap was found and has been charged.
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Old 06 November 2007, 06:27   #5
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Used a couple of out of date hand helds a fortnight ago to light a bonfire in the garden. First a white went off okay but got hot very quickly and lots of sparks out of the end. Chucked it on the bonfire before it got too hot. Second a red didn't fire now I am holding a flare that has been struck but not ignited and could go off any second. Pulled the plunger out and struck it hard again then it fired. Decided they aren't fireworks, they do get hot, have lots of sparks and if it doesn't fire what are you going to do with an unstable explosive device ?

Looked over a yacht recently and found a set of leather gardening type gloves in the flare box, now I know why and intend to put a set in the box on the rib.

Pete
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Old 06 November 2007, 06:35   #6
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this mite not work over thare cuzz no guns for yous but the flare gun is the way to go, never seen a flare gun shot fail no mater how old it was, gets it away from the hull,if ya lit off a hand flare on my hull i would have to toss you over the side before ya burnt a hole in my boat
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Old 06 November 2007, 07:12   #7
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Bern - ignoring the rights and wrongs of setting off distress flares when not in distress for a moment - what have you done to safely dispose of a partialy activate flare. Taking into account Pete7's observation that it is probably still live, just didn't detonate properly?
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Old 06 November 2007, 07:34   #8
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I'll not bang on about the misuse of flares issue, just to say PLEASE don't do it! In addition to the safety issues mentioned already, the RNLI, coastguard etc will automatically be called out to a flare identified as a marine distress flare thereby wasting their time and possibly distracting them from a real shout.

On the issue of failing flares, in my work boats I carry three complete sets of flares for this very reason. Ridiculous that I need to, and expensive too, but given what I know about the failure rate I am just not comfortable with less. When on yachts I generally take my own set in addition to the one on board as another backup.
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Old 06 November 2007, 07:44   #9
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the RNLI, coastguard etc will automatically be called out to a flare
yorr rite

de ornchurch orlwevver bote ad 463 corl owts lasst nite

garF
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Old 06 November 2007, 07:55   #10
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Strange that safety gear that is failing like this. I know its out of date but you wouldn't have thought so much would have failed. Which companies products are we talking about ? If its Pains Wessex thats the stuff used by the MOD and if anything like that doesn't work when its in date then their would be an investigation.
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