Boating Safe — Check Your Flares During The Off-Season

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 26, 2003

Special to the News-Herald

Gale force winds! Snow! Shifting seas, 16-foot waves: these are not conditions for an idyllic voyage of a recreational boat, yet they are the conditions our area faced in the past week. In fact, when you toss in the wind chill factor, it was absolutely nasty outside.

Since all true boaters want to be on their boats I have a recommendation for you. Visit your boat, ensure you can get onboard and use the time you don’t want to be underway to check a very important piece of safety equipment – the flares.

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These critical safety devices, (which include distress flares, smoke flares and meteor rockets) have an expiration date of 42 months after the date of manufacture. During a Coast Guard boarding this equipment is subject to inspection.

Besides the legal requirement, ask yourself a simple question: do you really want to have one of the most critical pieces of safety equipment onboard your vessel to be out of date? Are you willing to risk your rescue, your family’s rescue and the rescue of guests onboard to a piece of equipment that may fail?

Ok, so you have checked your boat and you have found some flares that need to be replaced. You go to your favorite marine supply location and purchase the new equipment. But what do you do with the out of date supplies?

Wayne Spivak, the Branch Chief

of the National Training Department for the Coast Guard Auxiliary provided the following recommendations:

1. Contact your local fire department, sanitation department or environmental protection department and determine your local hazardous waste material disposal rules. Then follow their rules.

2. Contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary and/or United States Power Squadron unit and see if they would like to have some old flares for training purposes. The Auxiliary and the Power Squadron teach boating courses year-round, and many of them sponsor (after receiving permission from the Coast Guard) pyrotechnic training days for the public.

Excellent recommendations.

One other item I wanted to mention for those of you that might want to try to get rid of your expired flares by trying to see if the work. Regulations prohibit display of distress signals except when a distress actually exists. You don’t want to make a false distress signal– ever.

Until next week…………Boat Safe……………..Boat Smart!