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  #1  
Old 07-13-2008
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I want to fire a flare

Never did it before and thinking that learning in an emergency is not the best time.
Is their any protocol about how to do this without it looking like a real emergency?
Backyard is an option, the beach is an option but every place will attract some attention and on the boat is a better drill anyway.

A radio announcement maybe?
I've seen test firring recommend by several books but no one has addressed the practical problem of exactly the best procedure in a very urban environment.
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Old 07-13-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidpm View Post
Is their any protocol about how to do this without it looking like a real emergency?
Pretty sure any non-emergency use of distress flares is illegal. I believe that yacht clubs and other groups can get permission to fire demonstration flares, but you'd be in big trouble if you just went and did it yourself and then got caught. Not to mention the waste of resources should any agency actually respond to the non-emergency.
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Old 07-13-2008
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What a good question, I have wondered the same thing myself. My first thought is to do it on the fourth of july, in the evening. My second thought is to call the coast guard and see what they say. Maybe if they know you are doing it then it wouldn't be such a bad thing to do, though that wouldn't let other boaters know what you were doing. Maybe after you set one off you can set off some colored fireworks at the same time to kind of let everyone know you were just fooling around and not actually in an emergency situation.
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Old 07-13-2008
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I shoot all my expired flairs off on the 4...If you have ever held a roman candel you have enough practice already...no big deal.
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Old 07-13-2008
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Whilst I've never had the urge to hold a flaming piece of sulphur in my hand or fire a shotshell flare through a cheap throwaway plastic gun, I figure it's pretty straightforward should one need to.

When in the Channel Islands, I've heard several calls to the coast guard advising them that flare training was taking place and giving their lat and long. I believe it was as a "security" as in "you're not respecting my authoritae".

You might call your local CG station and ask them the proper procedure for flare training. I think they've had more calls for boats on fire from flares than sighting flares of distressed vessels.
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Old 07-13-2008
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DO NOT set off a flare for anything other than an emergency.

First, yes, there is a procedure for getting USCG permission for training, contact the USCG or Life Raft Survival and Equipment, located here in Rhode Island, as they have an annual safety seminar and acheive permission to light handheld and parachute flares. Second, I recommend you attend a safety seminar, not a solely classroom seminar, but a hands-on seminar, where you learn how to safely use the products, including flares, fire extinguishers, etc.

Third, I have set off the solas flares, these are not toys, they burn VERY HOT and are dangerous if not used properly. A handheld flare ignited will instantly boil a bucket of water on contact, and if you do not know to hold the flare away from you, versus above you, a non-solas flare can drip slag causing severe burns, solas flares tend not to due this but can. A buring flare can easily start of fire, or melt other materials, on contact. Also, a solas parachute flare will travel approximately 1000 ft up, travel with the wind, and burn for about 40 seconds, and again burns VERY HOT, and the flare may or may not extinuish prior to contacting the ground, thus, DO NOT SET OFF ONE OF THESE IN YOUR BACK YARD, you could start a fire or worse.

Last edited by max-on; 07-14-2008 at 12:01 AM.
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Old 07-14-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by max-on View Post
DO NOT set off a flare for anything other than an emergency.

First, yes, there is a procedure for getting USCG permission for training, contact the USCG or Life Raft Survival and Equipment, located here in Rhode Island, as they have an annual safety seminar and acheive permission to light handheld and parachute flares. Second, I recommend you attend a safety seminar, not a solely classroom seminar, but a hands-on seminar, where you learn how to safely use the products, including flares, fire extinguishers, etc.

Third, I have set off the solas flares, these are not toys, they burn VERY HOT and are dangerous if not used properly. A handheld flare ignited will instantly boil a bucket of water on contact, and if you do not know to hold the flare away from you, versus above you, a non-solas flare can drip slag causing severe burns, solas flares tend not to due this but can. A buring flare can easily start of fire, or melt other materials, on contact. Also, a solas parachute flare will travel approximately 1000 ft up, travel with the wind, and burn for about 40 seconds, and again burns VERY HOT, and the flare may or may not extinuish prior to contacting the ground, thus, DO NOT SET OFF ONE OF THESE IN YOUR BACK YARD, you could start a fire or worse.
Your last paragraph, in my opinion, invalidates the whole idea of your first sentence. Reading your last paragraph made me imagine being in a liferaft, setting off a flare, and melting a hole in the raft so it wouldn't even hold air anymore. You've inspired me more than ever to set off a few flares to see what I should expect.
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Last edited by wind_magic; 07-14-2008 at 12:53 AM. Reason: sp
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Old 07-14-2008
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Get some white ones. They can be set off with any concern.
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Old 07-14-2008
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Contact your local fire department. They have training facilities and can sometimes be convinced to let you set off a flare, supervised, at one of these facilities. A small donation would probably go a long way.
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Old 07-14-2008
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Wind_magic-

Unfortunately, Max-on is correct in what he said. The USCG-approved hand flares tend to drop hot slag. The SOLAS-approved ones do not. SOLAS parachute flares may burn up to 60-90 seconds, and can travel quite a distance.

If you really need to fire off a flare, the white ones can be fired off fairly safely, as they are not generally used for emergencies. Get the same brand as the red handheld flares that you'd normally use. For parachute or meteor flares, it is a bit more difficult, due to the greater visibility these have.

A safety seminar, with hands-on section, is probably the safest way to go.
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