Are Flares Waterproof?

-- Last Updated: Apr-07-07 9:58 AM EST --

Had some flares on the water last season in a ziplock bag...apparently they got damp in there as the labels show that they obviously got wet.

I would imagine this is okay (you would hope so since they are for use on the water) but want to make sure they are as reliable as possible as you can probably understand.

Is this okay for them or should I replace them?

They were marine emergency aerial flares.


when they fail
it’s anyone’s guess why

Contact the coast guard auxiliary…
…point of contact in your area. They would know best, and they usually hold safety inspections once a month where they could inspect them.

Laser flare…

– Last Updated: Apr-07-07 10:48 AM EST –

Leaving them in a bag can actually help drive moisture into the flares 'cause of the humidity and the sealed environment. I'd suggest taking them out so they air out after each use, and only putting them in bags when you're on the water.

Although I carry traditional flares, I also added a laser flare to my kit. It's pricey, but they are also waterproof to 80 feet and mine has held up well through multiple treks in saltwater.

It's not necessarily a "let someone know I'm in trouble" device, but it is great for pinpointing your location once the search has started.

my .02 worth. Details:

but not forever. I had some with rusted out chains. The problem with waterproof bags is leaving things in them.

I think the better question is
do most inexpensive marine flares work at all. The Oroin Skyblazer flares I have bought, three for $20 are supposedly good for three years but after that time I try to test the flares and they have always failed. I don’t count on them to work when I need them so I rely on other devices that work. I wonder if there are any reliable, inerpensive flares that will work when you need them.

Laser Flares…
I have looked at those lasers before. They look like a good product…but they are only good at night right???


Yes, the laser flare will work in the daylight, but not as well as at night – just like other flare options. The main difference is the background isn’t as dark for the contrast between the red of the laser and the dark of night.

You can definitely see it during the day, though.

Would you be willing to risk your life on it? Flares are not the most dependable things to begin with, especially if you have never had the experience of using them.

I ordered one of those lasers. I will play with it a bit when it arrives and see what I think. I have read good things about them.

Seems that aerial flares are a hassle, and are unreliable…additionally there is some danger associated with carrying them. In order to have them be accessible you pretty much have to have them in your PFD…pointing right at your face. Not sure how comfortable I am about that.


There was an article in Sea Kayaker a while back advocating the use of heat-seal bags (“Seal-a-meal” technolgy). The claim was that they were much more waterproof than ziplocks, which in my experience always eventually leak. The only problem was the difficulty of opening them with bare hands, so the suggestion was to include a large nail or something similar inside the bag that could be twisted to puncture it.

Get a gun

– Last Updated: Apr-09-07 1:52 PM EST –

Every year ConnYak ( conducts a rescue clinic which is free to all. Along with doing all kayak rescues, we have the CG auxillary there and we do flare demos and you can fire your own outdated ones or even current ones. We have been doing this for 7 years now.

Both the small pencil types and strike types always have a very high failure rate. Brand new out of the package they are usually OK. Many paddlers have had every one of their flares fail.

The small 12 guage gun NEVER fails - old or new.

Another consideration?

You’re saying that flares are less visible in darkness than in daylight?

Parachute flares
launch higher, are the most visible and can be seen from a longer distance. Flare guns, like the 12 gauge mentioned above, come in second. Not bad. The Coast Guard does not recognize laser flares as an approved signaling device. That means that they are not required to launch a search asset, especially if there isn’t a report of anyone missing.

Laser flares are useless unless the helicopter is directly above you or the boat is next to you, looking in your direction. How is that going to help you, if you aren’t able to get anyone’s attention in the distance in the first place? Does someone know you’re out there?

A -detailed- float plan, parachute flares, flare gun, and a white flashing strobe, that you can activate, on your PFD and if applicable in your area, a VHF radio. Yep, some of these things are expensive, especially the parachute flares. But how much is your life worth, eh?

I must not be looking hard enough
where do you find parachute flares?

On the subject of lasers, I agree. Last time I checked, a laser was only visible if pointed at you. A tall order maybe in times of distress. With a flare, you simply launch it and get back to the business of drowning. Visible 360°.

Places like
West Marine have them. Stores like REI, etc don’t carry them, which does a great disservice to paddlers.

Something interesting…
…I saw recently:

Not an aerial flare but seems somewhat innovative in that it has duel, independent function with the flare and smoke out each end.

would be perfect
if I lived in the UK

specialty shops like Alder Creek
don’t carry them either

safety is for wimps