Expedition kit – flares

Flares are the last line of defence for signaling distress at sea. Use them as freely as an adolescent on fireworks night and be prepared for the local pub to go silent when you enter.

Flares allow those at sea to give a clear signal of distress whilst simultaneously indicating their position, enabling nearby vessels or emergency services to assist.

However, if you so much as cause the RNLI to put down their cup of tea, you may have to prove it was the responsible thing to do under the circumstances.

Parachute rocket flare

A parachute rocket flare is the first flare used to send out a call for help. It fires a high rocket about 300m that burns bright whilst held high by its parachute for about 40 seconds. With reasonable visibility this can be seen up 30 miles away.

Nevertheless, it should always be remembered that someone has to be in the vicinity and looking in your direction at that very moment. When far out to sea or in wilderness areas, the chances of being seen are reduced.

Pains Wessex 40 second red candela parachute flares well suit the purpose.

Red pinpoint flare

A pinpoint flare is a hand held flare used at night. It burns for about 60 seconds and is used is to indicate a user’s location to emergency services already in the vicinity and already conducting search.

It is not a rocket and must be held high so as to ensure the flare remains as visible as possible to craft in the vicinity.

Pains Wessex 60-second red 15,000 candela hand flares do the job.

Orange smoke flare

A smoke flare is best used during daylight. It can be used as a distress signal in the hope of a nearby vessel but is best and normally used as a location beacon when emergency services are sighted.

This flare is normally used after a rocket flare distress signal has successfully attracted attention. The smoke flare also helps rescue helicopters in guaging local wind speeds and directions. They can burn for about 60 seconds.

60-second Orange hand smokes suffice.

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