"On your mark. Get Set. Go!" Is your boat going to be ready as soon as the season starts? Summer is not far away and there are a number of things you can do in the next couple of months to prepare your boat for the season. One is checking your flares and, if they need replacing, there are some things you should know.
Do your flares need replacing or are you just going to get some new ones and add them to the existing flares on board? If so, you may want to think twice about it.
Before you race out and just grab what’s on your marine store’s shelf, consider the following.
What do you have?
Check what you’ve got aboard. How many? What type? What is the date of manufacture? Compare this with the requirements for your boat in your province or state. See the links at the end of this article
How old is too old?
How old is too old? The Coast Guard and Marine Police consider flares expired after 4 years from the date of manufacture.
Typically, this means that you must replace your flares every three boating seasons. The Coast Guard regulations require that each pyrotechnic signaling device must be stamped with the expiration date. If they have expired or will expire during the boating season, you must replace them...it's the law!
The fine in Canada for expired flares or no flares aboard is $150.00. In the U.S., there is a penalty of up to $1,100 for failure to comply with equipment requirements.
Don't spoil your summer. Do the check and replace when necessary. It is not only the law, it is your family’s potential rescue time you are risking. Do the right thing.
Don't buy old stock
Get your money’s worth when you buy "new" flares. Check the date of manufacture before you buy. For flares that are already a year old, they are only good for 75% of their intended life and therefore, worth only 75% of their retail value. And so on. Don’t buy old stock, without the appropriate pro-rated discount.
Expired flares can be saved as back-up flares for about 10 years to expand signaling time in the event of an emergency. Then, they become unstable and should be disposed of.
Old Flare Disposal
To dispose of expired marine distress signals, you can:
Never Do the following:
For more details refer to your Safe Boating Guide or go to -
Doug and Brenda Dawson
For trailered boats, make sure the drain plug is on your checklist! It wasn't on mine and I mistakenly expected that the shop who summerized and delivered my boat had installed it. They didn't, and I didn't check for it, and didn't realize it wasn't there 'till I got back to my backyard dock and saw the water coming up thru the ski well. I'm now known as "soggy-boy" after falling off the boat into the lake while trying to install the plug from above; would have been a lot easier on the launch ramp! Fortunately, nothing was damaged but my pride . . . Cheers
Dave Keyser, Soggy-boy