How do we operate flares and why different colours?



Flares are probably the simplest form of signalling a distress situation and are recognised internationally.


Parachute rocket flares, flying at 200 miles an hour reaching a height of 1,000 metres will be visible in good conditions for about 40 miles. They need to be fired slightly down wind as they tend to seek the wind.


Hand held or pin point flares have no height so their visible range is limited. However they are good at pin pointing a position and are most effective in the dark or gloomy conditions.


Buoyant orange smoke is more effective in day light when a red flare may not be seen in bright sunlight. It should be thrown to leeward of the vessel to allow the smoke to billow away from the vessel.


For Offshore sailing we should carry,


                                        4 x Red parachute rocket

                                        6 x Red hand held

                                        2 x Buoyant Orange smoke

                                        2 x White collision avoidance



It is always worth having a look and understanding the firing mechanism of the flare pack aboard the boat you are on. The firing mechanisms change with the manufacturer some are pull cords others are twist and bang. In every case think of your safety, never aim they flare at a person always keep it aimed at the sky, if it misfires throw it overboard.


The flare pack should be kept in a safe dry environment and easily accessible by everyone.




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                                                                                                                                                                                                                 GT Yachting October 2012