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Where to with old flares?

Firing a flare into the sky – be it a floater, sinker or hand-held device – could mean life or death when in distress out at sea. But where do you take expired flares?

The fire department is not the answer.

Most flares usually expire 42 months after the date of manufacture in accordance with Coast Guard requirements. Typically, this means that you must replace your flares every three boating seasons.

But other flares could expire within a year – meaning that they must be replaced sooner rather than later.

According to Rob Isher, an avid sailor whose boat is docked at the Gordon’s Bay Yacht Club (GBYC), the guidelines are important to adhere to despite the fact that a flare cannot simply malfunction or become a hazard to store.

“What happens is that over time the brightness of the flare diminishes, so it is vitally important to ensure you have flares replaced regularly,” Isher said.

Elenore Baiocchi, GBYC manager, said that they urge members to adhere to regulations and dispose of flares as safely as possible.

“At one point no-one knew where to take it and we can’t keep it on site either. One suggestion included taking it to the manufacturer when purchasing new flares,” she said.

At the moment, only the Western Cape Bomb Squad in Pinelands takes in expired flares. Call them on 021 506 2201.

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