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Distress flares - which flare, how & when to use?

Distress flares

How to use distress flares at sea

Flares should be kept in a waterproof container in an easily accessible location such as a cockpit locker. There are several types of flare for different purposes:

Red handheld flares:

Use as a line of sight distress signal by day and night.
Hold with arms outstretched.
Point downwind.
Don’t look at flare.
Lasts approx 1 minute.

Orange smoke distress flares:

Use as a line of sight distress signal for daytime use only.
Handheld and Floating canister versions, which last approx 3 minutes.

Red parachute or rocket flares:

Use for long range distress signalling.
Up to 10 miles in daylight, 40 miles at night.
Height 300m if fired vertically.
Fire at 45º downwind in low cloud or strong winds.
Lasts less than 1 minute.

Illuminating flare
White Handheld:

Only available in some countries.
Use to signal your position at night if there is a risk of collision.
Hold with arms outstretched.
Point downwind.
Don’t look at flare.
Lasts approx 1 minute.

Tips

• Handheld flares get very hot. Keep a pair of gloves with the container to prevent burns.

• Check your expiry dates and replace when necessary. Take advice on disposal of expired flares locally.

• All crew should know the location of the flares on board and know how to operate them.

(info. from Safe Skipper app for iPhone, iPad & Android)

Distress flares - which flare, how & when to use?

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