Please select your home edition
Edition
Henri Lloyd 50 Years

Five Marine Flare Steps for Sailing Safety

by Captain John Jamieson on 8 Dec 2012
Red flares generate enormous heat and light - do you know how to use them safely? John Curnow ©
Are you sure you know how to use a flare gun, flare launcher, flare smoke, or flare parachute? You need to be familiar with all of these vital tools--before an emergency happens. You won't have time then!

Blinding rain or squall, howling wind, heavy seas, and smoke filled compartments. If you've been in a situation like this, you know these are not ideal conditions. But if an emergency at sea ever strikes, that's when you will often be faced with the tough stuff and knowing how to handle your emergency signals without fumbling could save your life.


The most famous sea tragedy of all, caused by lax safety standards

At 2:20 am, Monday, April 15th, 1912, the Titanic slid beneath the waves of the Atlantic, leaving her passengers and crew fighting for their lives in 31°F (-1°C) water. Most died from drowning--not hypothermia. Survival in water that cold averages between 15 to 20 minutes.

If the right safety equipment had been aboard, none of this would have happened. Matter of fact, those passengers and crew have over two hours to make preparations and abandon the ship, but were unable to do so because of the lax standards in the shipping industry at that time. But it was to be nevermore...


Out of great tragedy often comes a great awakening. An international committee was formed to study the tragedy and come up with new safety standards. Safety equipment was beefed up and no ship sailed without enough lifeboats for her passengers and crew. This committee went by the name of Safety Of Life At Sea.


Why Choose SOLAS Marine Flares?

Today, SOLAS equipment is recognized throughout the maritime world as the finest, most reliable that money can buy. No racing sailboat can sail offshore without SOLAS equipment aboard. From flares to launchers to liferafts to liferaft equipment. If you want the best of the best, insist on SOLAS certified equipment.


Oh sure, you can go to any marine store and purchase the standard CG approved flares. And they are fine to use in protected waters. SOLAS flares are about 2 to 3 times as expensive. But SOLAS flares are brighter, shoot higher and can be seen much farther away.

All flares come with illustrated instructions on the flare body. SOLAS flares are easier to follow and much easier to see in tough conditions of smoke, rain, fog, or nighttime.


Five Steps to Fire Any Marine Flare:

Practice and train you crew in the use of emergency flares. That way, if you become incapacitated, they will know what to do. Follow these five simple steps:

1. Put your back to the wind. Move to the edge of the boat. Make sure to brace yourself as the vessel pitches and rolls.

2. Read the instructions to open the marine flare. Don't assume you just take off a cap and ignite it. With some flares, you remove one cap; others require that you remove both caps.

If you use a flare gun, flare pistol, or flare launcher, learn how to load it before an emergency strikes. Some flare gun shells load from the inside of the barrel and others from the outside. Read the manufacturer's instructions first.

3. Wear eye protection. Common eye or sunglasses meet this requirement. If the wind shifts, you'll be glad you did.

4. Hold a handheld or parachute flare in your non-dominant hand. Hold a flare gun in your dominant hand. Make a straight arm and hold your arm up at a 45 degree angle. With handheld marine flares, cock your wrist to slant it away from you.

These flares drip melted element--called slag--as they burn. You want hot slag going into the water--not onto your hand!

5. Look to one side. Do not watch the flare, flare gun, or parachute when you ignite it. This gives extra protection for your eyes. Drop the expended flare body or shell case into the water.

If the handheld flare, flare parachute, or flare gun shell fails to ignite, do not make a second attempt. Drop the flare or shell case into the water.

None of us ever hopes to have to use our marine flares. Make sure you and your crew understands these five critical survival steps in an emergency--wherever in the world you choose to sail!

John Jamieson (Captain John) with 25+ years of experience shows you the no-nonsense cruising skills you need for safer sailing worldwide. Visit his website at www.skippertips.com. Sign up for his highly popular 'Sailing Tip of the Week'. Discover how you can gain instant access to hundreds of sailing articles, videos, e-Books and more!

Related Articles

Sailing in the Olympics beyond 2016 - A double Olympic medalist's view
Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. Gold and Bronze medalist and multiple world boardsailing/windsurfer champion, Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. A key driver is the signalled intention by the International Olympic Committee to select a basket of events that will be contested.
Posted on 29 Apr
From Olympic flag to Olympic Gold and maybe another
The Sydney Olympics was a Sailing double 470 Gold event for Australia. Having won the 420 World Championship in 2000, the feeder class to the 470, while still at school in Australia young Matt Belcher was given the honour of carrying the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Posted on 28 Apr
Pantaenius – Smooth sailing is more than a favourable weather forecast
Pantaenius get ready to launch into their fourth year operating in Australia As Pantaenius get ready to launch into their fourth year operating in Australia, we get to see why they continue to grow their happy crew of customers. Sitting down with Pantaenius Australia’s MD, Jamie MacPhail, you immediately get a sense that the smooth sailing is a direct result of both their unique product and the marketplace’s willingness to embrace the better mousetrap
Posted on 27 Apr
100 days to Rio, are there potholes and bumps ahead?
The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win in Hyeres. The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win in Hyeres, at some World championship events and Weymouth World Cup but for most crews.
Posted on 26 Apr
Is George Lucas a sailor?
He’s very famous for a lot of things, and justifiably so. One of them is Industrial Light and Magic He’s very famous for a lot of things, and justifiably so. One of them is Industrial Light and Magic, which has been instrumental in the making of many of the special effects that have made the digital world so impressive. Gone are the smears of Vaseline along the bottom edge of the clear filter to hide the trolley that was actually transporting Luke Skywalker’s Speeder, for instance.
Posted on 25 Apr
America's Cup - Oracle Racing win in Court but with collateral damage
Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Mitchell focussed largely on the circumstances of the matter and introduced into the public arena some interesting documents to support his claims.
Posted on 23 Apr
Thou doth protest too much, me thinks
And no, we’re not off to analyse Hamlet right away. There’ll be no surtitles popping up on the top of your screen And no, we’re not off to analyse Hamlet right away. There’ll be no surtitles popping up on the top of your screen about now. At any rate, it is simply an adaptation of Lady Gertrude’s original line. We merely seek to use it as a way to demonstrate that when there is a lot of brouhaha going on, the smoke screen ultimately ends up as a lovely, colourful flag as to the real intent behind it.
Posted on 18 Apr
Children of the Internet, Rio and Hong Kong
I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. The kind of conversations I have with her run along these lines.... In the olden days we did not have television until I left school and they had a thing called print magazines, that reported events between two weeks and four months after they happened. And her sceptical response... Hoh! Daddy, Hoh!
Posted on 14 Apr
Can World Sailing learn from dear old Oz?
Why just lay the drop sheets out and tape up the edges of the windows for a splash of paint Some time ago now, Sail-World proposed that ISAF had a really good opportunity at hand when it morphed into World Sailing (WS). Why just lay the drop sheets out and tape up the edges of the windows for a splash of paint, when you could bring out the jackhammers and do a proper reno??? A call was issued for 200,000 sets of goggles and earmuffs to be supplied and for the real work to be commenced.
Posted on 11 Apr
World Sailing Cup V3 - A Dead Rat in a Shoe or Spring Daffodils?
While a host of major sailing events go from strength to strength, the Sailing World Cup has very major issues. Last night my Irish better half was sitting beside me on the sofa watching an Australian version of the popular TV Cooking Program My Kitchen Rules on a tablet with her headphones while I was watching Diehard II for the seventeenth time (it’s a boy thing) on TV. She suddenly spluttered and laughed, took off her headphones and motioned for me to mute Diehard. (Seriously!!)
Posted on 9 Apr
Lancer Inflatables - BJT Clewring AC72Naiad/Oracle Supplier