While coastal kayaking, I carried a set of Orion, Skyblazer II flares with me until they expired. I replaced them, but the expired set were still hanging around, until yesterday. We were a few miles from open water, and in the general mayhem of people shooting off rockets to celebrate the Fourth, I felt confident the flares would be lost among the visual clutter and would not trigger an emergency response.
I’ve wanted to fire one of these for a long time. Instructions are written in very small print on the side of each tube, While firing is simple, there are a few steps and they are not intuitive. I often wondered if I’d be able to fire them while bouncing around in the water trying to read the directions in the dark. However, I’d heard it was illegal to fire them in a non-emergency situation and I certainly didn’t want to start a Coast Guard search or anything like that. After a few internet searches, I now believe firing the flares is only illegal if you are near the water.
I’ve often heard folks in the kayak club say these flares are unreliable. They say even fresh flares often fail to fire. So, I was surprised that all four of my expired flares fired. The expiration date was Sep 2014. So, 3 years post expiration, they seemed reliable. And, the grandkids got a hoot out of them.