New Flares Again?

Ben Eriksen Carey News 7 Comments

Our summer season sailing season is winding down. The past 15 months of living, sailing, working, swimming, hosting, teaching, reefing, and beating into some big waves have been great, but it’s time to give our old girl a rest, some TLC, and a few upgrades. It’s also time for some of the more mundane re-occurring tasks… EPRIB registration renewal, Vessel Documentation renewal, and checking for expired safety gear, like those flares we never used. We used to keep old flares, but our stock pile got so large, that it just didn’t make sense anymore.


I’m sitting here looking at another set of expired flares… well actually, they expire in 3 months. But now with our somewhat transient lifestyle, it seems every time we need to discard them, we are in a new location that requires good old fashioned sleuthing to find a proper disposal location. There is no universal solution for proper flare disposal. Everywhere is different, at least in our experience.

While searching for our local disposal solution, I did a little more research on the impacts of flare disposal.

Here’s Some Bad News:

  •  Approximately 7 million flares expire each year
  • Only 9% are disposed of properly = 6,370,000 disposed of improperly (landfills, dumpsters, ocean, etc)
  • One flare has the potential to contaminate up to 240k gallons of ground water

Yowsers! So now with expired flares on my hands again, I’m thinkin’ the time has come to go for the non-explosive, non-toxic, non-burning, non-expiring Weems & Plath SOS Distress Light. It appears to be the responsible solution. We’ve always thought they were a good idea, but being the self-proclaimed tight-wads that we are, decided to hold-off purchasing one, until our current flares expired.

So they’re environmentally a sound investment, but what about the safety factor? Are they visible and understood distress indicators? Will people know, or recognize the flashing light pattern of  ••• –––  ••• ?  I think so… it won’t take long to question the meaning of an unfamiliar blinking light. Besides, many, if not most, already do recognize it. Especially those that would also likely recognize and respond to a flare. The understanding of SOS is well known in the commercial maritime industry, and is spreading fast in the  recreational sailing/boating community. If you are concerned about it’s effectiveness, you need not be for long.

What about the daytime? Well the light is bright, but the USCG  has other requirements for daytime use. Paired with your distress flag, you are 100% USCG compliant. All prudent sailors should know their distress signals. If not—it’s time to break out those study books and brush up before next season.


The SOS light is a fully recyclable LED light signal that I’ll buy once, thus eliminating the need to purchase at least three toxic flares  that expire after three years and then require disposal and repurchase. I’ll be helping to keeping hazardous class 1.4 explosives out of our stores, off our roads, and out of our dumpsters as well as reducing the negative effects of proper incineration.

For me, the SOS Light presents a new opportunity to make a wise choice for the environment. It’s a real solution to a massive and grossly under-discussed issue. I now feel morally obligated to choose the SOS Light, the same way I feel morally obligated to recycle, or not buy single use plastic drink bottles — taking one small step at a time. When doing the right thing for the environment is this easy, then it is a no-brainer.

Here’s Some Great News

And guess what — now it’s even better! Use the coupon code helloocean to save 20% when you buy the SOS Light from Weems & Plath. (Offer ends December 1, 2016.) Plus, Weems & Plath will give 5% to Hello Ocean for every unit sold using this coupon code. Save and protect! Any boat owner who loves the ocean would be crazy not to seize this opportunity! Thank you Weems & Plath!

Comments 7

  1. Linda Hoffecker

    Great idea! I do have another one but it includes use of the toxic flares however when they are done, they are done.. If you boat where it’s a seasonal boating area, you could have a collection place where your season is over but your flares are still good for some months. Drop off flares there (marine stores, marinas, etc) and they could be shipped to year round sailing places so they can be used up till expiration date. Or, turn in flares and get a % off on your purchase off the SOS light! I have never met a flare that has not gone off way after expiration date…..I think it’s a money maker like over vaccinating people and pets!

  2. Bruce

    Can an ‘about to expire’ flare just be spent and toss the cardboard tube? Also – fire departments go through tons of flares for car wrecks, etc. Perhaps the FD could use ’em.

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