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26 March 2012
Are you confused about the value of flares? I am.
All the articles I read put forward such compelling arguments, some for, some against. As there is no legal requirement on what you should carry, all I can do is to try to classify these opinions and the reasons for them and leave you to make up your own minds whether you use them or not.
Pyrotechnic / Visual Distress Signals are the group name for flares, rockets, smoke signals and other attention-getting devices that burn, splutter, smoke or explode. It is also the one type of safety equipment you are unlikely to use until you need it in an emergency. They include a variety of handheld or aerial flares for day and night use and devices that emit orange smoke for day use.
This depends on the size of your vessel and the type of passages you do, but here is a rough guide:-
When letting off parachute flares it might be sensible to let off 2 flares consecutively. If people see the first one, they may not recognise it as a distress flare, but will keep looking in the area to see if it happens again and are more likely to take action when they see the second one.
The most sensible solution seems to be – don't rely on one method. Just as you never know when an accident will happen, or what it will be, it is also clear that there will be different ways of signalling for help and the greater your options are, the more likely you are to be able to use the most appropriate method to deal with it.
Whatever safety equipment you decide to use, do your research well and find out what the RYA, MCA and RNLI recommend for your particular type of boat and the sort of voyages you make. Hopefully, like the majority of those sailing the seas, you will never have to use them, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Author – Dee White