For many boaters, buying flares is an expense and an exercise we endure every three years or so without much thought. We know we need to carry visual distress signals, and we might even remember that there are both daytime and nighttime signals, but after that, it’s hard to parse the differences. And while the need
is unavoidable, your choices have expanded recently. So
it’s worth taking a moment to consider the type of boating
you do and if there are better options than adding to your
growing collection of expired flares — or, alternatively, if the
minimum requirement of three flares, and the few minutes
of signal time they represent, will serve you well in an
emergency. Maybe you’d prefer additional signaling power.
With new alternatives to flares coming to market, the BoatU.S.
Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water decided to
Please Say You See Me!
There’s a big difference
between complying with
USCG regs and being
found in the dark. Here’s
a rundown of options in
visual distress signals
conduct tests by looking at what’s
currently on the market and compare the
new signaling devices to the old standbys.
For our recent test, we took a look
at both USCG-approved and SOLAS
(Safety of Life at Sea) internationally
approved pyrotechnic flares and a variety
of electronic devices ranging from
lasers to an assortment of LED devices.
Only one of the lights tested meets
carriage requirements, meaning it’s an
adequate substitute for flares during a
safety inspection when combined with
an orange distress flag for daytime
use. To be clear, this means the others
would be carried aboard strictly because
BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water By Chris Edmonston
faired in our