Carrying flares

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Carrying flares

Post by ron-t » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:34 pm

Hi

I don`t know how far the information travelled through the country, but a few weeks ago the local press on Anglesey had a story about a sea kayaker who had been rescued by a lifeboat somewhere off the coast of Anglesey.

I don`t know anything about what happened, whether they were male or female, or whether it was a sea kayak or a sit-on-top, so there is no criticism or comment either actual or implied in this post. It isn`t the first time, and it will not be the last, and thanks to all the various rescue services who do what they do.

However what was interesting was the fact that the paddler was rescued because he or she set off an orange smoke flare - it was seen by a woman on the shore somewhere, and she notified the coastguard.

Now personally, I carry a DSC + GPS radio on my bouyancy aid, a spare voice-only radio in my deck bag, and I have thought about whether I should also get a PLB. But I have never thought about getting flares.

It worked on this occasion - so I am a bit curious as to how many sea kayakers still think flares are a good thing to carry.

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by robhorton » Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:08 pm

I would certainly advocate carrying some handheld / orange smoke flares in addition to vhf + plb as they are good for indicating your location to people actually looking for you - and if there are other people around will be useful for raising the alarm as well. I also carry a couple of parachute flares although I think you could argue that they're not essential if you have a PLB.

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by Daker » Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:14 pm

Yep, I feel flares still have their place (in addition to VHF and / or PLB) despite the cost v lifespan v likeliness to actually work when you need them.
I also believe that rescuers find them very useful when closing-in on the casualty, particularly for gauging wind direction for helicopters.

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by MikeB » Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:01 pm

As noted, yes to a hand held combined smoke / flare. While others will disagree, I no longer carry a parachute rocket. Largely as we have PLB as well as VHF but also following Gordon Brown's comment in one of his videos that they are decidedly dangerous things to try and use from a kayak.

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:43 pm

That was the Moelfre RNLI that rescued that kayaker and yes indeed it was an orange smoke flare that alerted the public. Personally if I had no flares and no PLB I would put my money into a PLB first. A flare burns for a very short period of time and unless you are close to someone on the shore or a boat the chance of it being seen is remote. I used to carry an armory of flares which was both expensive and difficult to dispose of.

I was there when Gordon Brown nearly took his head off and burn his hands off with a rocket flare. The trouble is that flares were never designed to be fired from a kayak or in the water. They are very difficult to operate when your hands are cold and wet and the rocket just slipped through Gordon's hands even though he had practiced firing them before. The other issue is how hot even hand held flares burn. In the instructions for the last orange smoke flare I bought it advised wearing a heavy leather glove.

I accept that a smoke flare still has a role of attracting the helicopter or lifeboat (despite the fact that they burn for a very short period of time) to you, once you can see them, but my personal choice for that is now a green laser flare which is safe to point at a pilot due to the wide beam.

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Photo Simon Willis

Image
Photo Simon Willis

Image
Photo Douglas Wilcox Note the empty canister which bounced up from the spraydeck and hit Gordon on the head.

Despite the fact that the parachute flare reached full height and there were other vessels nearby, no one reported it to the coastguard. (The coastguard had been notified before the firing.)

I am aware that I am very much out on a limb here, but I no longer carry flares on my kayak, I value my hands and head too much.

Douglas

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by GrahamC » Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:44 pm

I stopped carrying flares when my last set expired. I now carry a PLB, vhf, phone and an LED flare. The area where the rescue took place is frequented by quite a few walkers (dog and coastal path) and I would regard it as well populated most of the year, so I am not surprised that the smoke was seen. The LED flare is good in dull conditions but is pretty much useless in daylight. I compared it with a red handheld on a summer day and it was not really visible at 20 feet, but the red handheld was visible at 400m. Having set off a few flares I agree with Douglas that they can be downright dangerous. If a dripping handheld touched your drysuit a bad situation is not very serious.

I normally carry a compass and have always hoped that I may be able to use vhf to a rescuer and give them a bearing towards me, however, that last pinpoint is where a smoke could be a necessity.
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Re: Carrying flares

Post by OMarti » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:13 pm

As France loves reglementation for any kind of activity , all vessel cruising at more than 2 nm of a harbour (any place safe to shore with the boat you're on) should carry 3 orange flares. We practice every year in my club (onshore).
I don't know what rule applies when a British paddles in France with a British boat ?
Olivier

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by Psamathe » Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:09 pm

OMarti wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:13 pm
As France loves reglementation for any kind of activity , all vessel cruising at more than 2 nm of a harbour (any place safe to shore with the boat you're on) should carry 3 orange flares. We practice every year in my club (onshore).
I don't know what rule applies when a British paddles in France with a British boat ?
Olivier
A bit off topic but does that regulation cover ALL boats or just those over 5m long?

Ian

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by OMarti » Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:15 am

Boat less than 3m50 can not sail farther than 2nm of a safe harbour. All boats sailing above this distance should be registered, and carry some safety stuff: flare, VHF, pump or bucket, etc

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by adventureagent » Sat Feb 10, 2018 3:39 pm

Douglas Wilcox wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:43 pm
That was the Moelfre RNLI that rescued that kayaker and yes indeed it was an orange smoke flare that alerted the public. Personally if I had no flares and no PLB I would put my money into a PLB first. A flare burns for a very short period of time and unless you are close to someone on the shore or a boat the chance of it being seen is remote. I used to carry an armory of flares which was both expensive and difficult to dispose of.

I was there when Gordon Brown nearly took his head off and burn his hands off with a rocket flare. The trouble is that flares were never designed to be fired from a kayak or in the water. They are very difficult to operate when your hands are cold and wet and the rocket just slipped through Gordon's hands even though he had practiced firing them before. The other issue is how hot even hand held flares burn. In the instructions for the last orange smoke flare I bought it advised wearing a heavy leather glove.

I accept that a smoke flare still has a role of attracting the helicopter or lifeboat (despite the fact that they burn for a very short period of time) to you, once you can see them, but my personal choice for that is now a green laser flare which is safe to point at a pilot due to the wide beam.

Image
Photo Simon Willis

Image
Photo Simon Willis

Image
Photo Douglas Wilcox Note the empty canister which bounced up from the spraydeck and hit Gordon on the head.

Despite the fact that the parachute flare reached full height and there were other vessels nearby, no one reported it to the coastguard. (The coastguard had been notified before the firing.)

I am aware that I am very much out on a limb here, but I no longer carry flares on my kayak, I value my hands and head too much.

Douglas
No reply needed. Sounds like you're better than last I read you. Good news.
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Re: Carrying flares

Post by RichJ » Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:21 pm

Hi Folks,
Well, I guess we are all going through similar considerations at the moment? Here's where we are upto with our thinking.
A few years ago, several of us were involved in a rescue, I imagine not very far from the incident under discussion. See viewtopic.php?f=4&t=90484&p=634560&hili ... ue#p634560

Again, kayakers were seen in difficulty from the shore. They didn't have flares. During the course of the incident the helicopter pilot asked if we had smoke and if so to release, to aid his wind assessment. The small day/night is easy to release from a kayak and clearly, remains to have at least this specific use.
We continue to carry these...

I have never fired a parachute in 'anger' (thank God). But I have fired them in practice. Have no doubt, it is an interesting experience! We were on land, in a stable position. The risk to self and kit would be very high. At 'best', it wouldn't take much to compromise a drysuit, with associated potential consequences. Don't think bonfire night pops, these are serious ordnance!
I carry two, very nearly out of date and I don't plan to replace them...

In addition I carry VHF, which has been used to contact emergency services on several occasions, in assistance AND for emergency services to contact us when there has been a problem in our vicinity. For such action, a simple trip plan call to Coastguard is of course essential.

PLB... Prices have dropped on these. Following a trip to Mingaulay,which felt more than a little isolated, carrying one of these devices seemed a no brainer! They are also very small.

Mobile phone...I can barely use the thing on land. With cold fingers, bright light, cold battery and short sighted... I can only hope! BUT I believe they can be tracked? And landing might not be where planned.

Laser flare. I don't currently carry one. However, reading stuff on here and elsewhere. Interested in views!

Richard

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by TechnoEngineer » Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:00 pm

I don't carry any flares but have considered carrying a white hand flare to ward off a collision.
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Re: Carrying flares

Post by jamesl2play » Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:51 pm

I had cause to use flares to attract the attention of a rescue boat once.
Not worth the paper they were written on.
Having said that I would not discourage anyone from carrying them if they wanted to.
Better than nothing.

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by Chris Bolton » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:53 am

I now carry a Greatland Green Laser Flare (plus PLB, VHF, mobile and orange dye) but no pyrotechnics. The laser flare is supposed to be visible for 3 miles in daylight and 30 at night, but I haven't tested it over those distances due to concerns about it being seen by others that than the tester (I know it's not an official distress signal). It's small enough to keep on my BA. Primarily, I intend the VHF and PLB to say I need help and the laser to locate me, but it has a 5 hour use time so pointing it at the shore to attract attention is viable in places where there might be anyone to see it. The point about smoke for a helicopter is one I hadn't thought of, so I may review that.

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:23 pm

Hi Chris at a demo day a few years ago I asked one of the sea king pilots at RN Gannet how important smoke would be in a rescue. His answer was "Not that important but nice to have if you have a flare. The unpredictable wind rescuing people in mountains causes much more problems for the pilot and few people needing rescued in the mountains have flares".

I also use a Greatland Green Laser. I have tested it in a remote area. It is very visible at night from 5km, less so in day time but at 4km in daylight it shows as a brief flash. The trick is to slowly wave the broad thin strip of the laser beam across the field of vision of the rescuer. Then it will show as a series of flashes. A PLB should get the helicopter to within a few hundred metres of you by homing in on the 121.5MHz signal which the PLB also transmits. At that sort of range there is no missing the green flash night or day of a laser flare. It is importsant not to mix up a laser flare with LED flares. These are omnidirectional but very much less bright. A waterproof LED torch would probably be just as good and a lot cheaper.

Douglas.

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by ian johnston » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:00 pm

I concur absolutely with the posts Douglas has contributed above. I was also in Loch Tamnabhaigh when Gordon nearly lost both hands (and his head) firing a rocket flare. The recoil also took a chunk out of the cockpit rim.....and remember that this was on flat water with plenty of time to prepare the flare firing.

In a previous job I got to use para-illuminants and smokes occasionally - with the para-illuminants things rarely went smoothly. One thing I can attest to is that if you get a face full of the orange smoke, you will very soon drop it in the sea as you struggle to breathe or see. As mentioned above, some of them also get bloody hot in use.

Combining all these points, and adding in the limited life and difficulty of disposal; I can see no good reason to carry pyros over a PLB (especially a dual 405Mhz/121.5Mhz model) and a laser flare or very bright strobe. The Greatland green laser flare is eye safe for aircrew and very effective.

In my view, pyros are yesterday's technology and not as effective as the alternatives....and the alternatives won't burn you either!

Ian

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by Ken_T » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:55 am

Hi,
I no longer carry pyrotechnics, but have a PLB, VHF/DSC & an LED flare (& a waterproof (IP68) 'phone). I consider the pyrotechnics too difficult to use (& dangerous) now that we have alternatives.
Ken

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by seawolf856 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:25 pm

I carry PLB, VHF and phone. I have also just recently decided to carry some small red flares called Compact Distress Signals, made by Pains Wessex. These come with a very neat and easy to operate spring loaded hand launcher that can be fired safely from a boat. They only reach a height of 45m and burn for just 5 secs so you may question their effectiveness, but you can fit about 10 of them in a small drybag in your PFD pocket, so why not?. I figured they would be worth a try to attract attention while I am waiting for my PLB signal to be picked up and relayed to the coastguard. I use my VHF to listen to weather forecasts and talk to companions (not on channel 16 of course) but using a VHF with cold hands in rough conditions can be difficult. I would also say the chances of operating a phone in an emergency - on the water- are probably close to ZERO. However if you are actually on land maybe at an unintentional landing point, and are lucky enough to have a signal then a phone could be useful.
Carrying a PLB has got to be the No1 choice for emergency safety.

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by RichJ » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:11 am

Hi Seawolf,
Assuming the same thing, I had a pack of those. Almost like shotgun cartridges which fit on the end of a 'pen', fired by pulling back and releasing a spring loaded firing pin?
I had heard they had a poor reputation for reliability. However, mine went on a bonfire night extravaganza, years out of date and each fired perfectly! However, I figured they were too fiddly when cold and wet. Also, I felt there was a risk of releasing the firing pin inadvertently.
Richard

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by rowlandW » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:50 am

Just a thought, but one man (even Gordon) having a bad evening in the office with cold hands doesn't equate to 'all pyro is dangerous'. I've fired a fair few (high, low, red, orange, illum, smoke and pinpoint) in adverse circumstances (not all in a paddling environment) and not had a drama yet. I'll carry on carrying my set.

(And yes, I'm a believer in 'belt, braces AND bailer twine'!)

Rowland

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by Daker » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:03 pm

Having read this and a similar conversation on the SSKEG FB page I'm now seriously considering NOT replacing my out of date parachute flares.

Like others I carry VHF and PLB so I'm increasingly of the opinion that the added value a Para flare adds is not sufficient to outweigh the risk of it not firing, mis-firing, burning me or my gear if it does go off.

This news report posted elsewhere makes for very worrying viewing -

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by seawolf856 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:36 am

RichJ wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:11 am
Hi Seawolf,
Assuming the same thing, I had a pack of those. Almost like shotgun cartridges which fit on the end of a 'pen', fired by pulling back and releasing a spring loaded firing pin?
I had heard they had a poor reputation for reliability. However, mine went on a bonfire night extravaganza, years out of date and each fired perfectly! However, I figured they were too fiddly when cold and wet. Also, I felt there was a risk of releasing the firing pin inadvertently.
Richard
Hi Richard, I agree with you about these little beauties being a bit fiddly with cold hands and that the firing pin could be released inadvertently (that's if you managed to load the pen and cock it in the first place!). However as a third line of defence against imminent death (1 = PLB, 2 = VHF), I'd say they were not a bad back up device as they are relatively cheap and very easy to carry. I guess flares are just one in a long line of debatable issues associated with our idiosyncratic pastime - put them on the list with knives, paddle leashes, helmets etc, etc, etc.

Going back to the original post, regarding the luck lad rescued off Moelfre, I'm betting he is VERY glad he had a couple of flares in his pocket!!!!

I can't wait for bonfire night 2021 - stay safe out there :-)

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by CharlieS » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:31 am

There's also the danger posed to members of your family (children) from high explosives in your kit.

I suspect most of us roll our eyes at stories of gun owners in the USA doing stupid things like allowing their children to know where they keep their ammunition, or leaving their gun accessible to children in a car or a pile of gear on a backpacking trip, but how many of us take even the precautions recommended for fireworks when we're storing flares, or travelling with them?

Does kayaking insurance cover accidental discharge of a flare by a child? I'd guess not.

Charlie

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by RickC » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:27 am

Hi All

Just a thought regarding para/rocket flares. It could be your best hope if you've been forced to land (medical/capsized/broken kayak) on a remote beach/gully surrounded by high cliffs. You're in a deep hole. A PLB/VHF or mobile phone may not get a signal out in this situation. They all need "line of sight" to whatever they are trying to communicate with. A laser flare won't help either for the same reason. So there you are with all that electronic stuff... time to build a fire maybe? It's a bit "Castaway" or Robinson Crusoe" at this stage, right?

Now imagine sitting in the same deep hole, waving a 1000ft long pole above you with a blindingly bright omni-directional red light on the top. It would attract a bit of attention - cliff walkers, farmers or other kayaks/boats/ships/aircraft. A parachute flare will achieve 300m elevation, burn for 40 seconds with an intensity twice as bright as a hand-held flare (30,000 Candela for the geeks among you -oh yes, you know who you are!) and cannot be mistaken for anything else. It's very, very bright, even in daylight. It can be seen for up to 35nm on a clear night. Daylight distances are less but it's still pretty effective for 10nm on a sunny day with good visibility.

So I always carry parachute flares when I'm on a coast with high cliffs. If you have to use one for real, the advice is to fire two in succession (slightly downwind - it will then "pop" above you). Fire the second one about one minute after the first. If an observer is not sure of what they have seen the first time, the second one will confirm it. Remember, if you can hear something/someone then there is a very high chance they will see your flares, even if they can't see you.

Just a reminder - don't start firing these things if/when your rescue helicopter turns up! The crew will get a bit ticked off and will probably hover a little way off until you stop shooting at them. Now is the time for that orange smoke, which will also signify to the crew that you have some idea. I'm a big fan of orange smoke in safety kit, especially the floating canister variety.

Finally, there's a duty of care around pyrotechnics. Safe storage and risk management (especially around minors) is essential. This is especially true for those silly little wallets of "mini-flares" that are so interesting to children. They look a lot like a toy and they are seriously dangerous IMHO. They are also a total waste of money as a rescue aid, lacking elevation and burn time. Don't waste your money. If any manufacturer/retailer wants to take issue with this statement I say, bring it onto this forum right now!

Oh, and I'm with Rowland on this whole topic of flares. By all means carry the electronics but proper flares really do still have their place in a sea kayak safety kit.

Cheers, Rick

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by Ken_T » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:04 pm

Hi,
The usual recommendation for a rocket flare is to fire on your down wind side with the flare pointed slightly down wind so that the exhaust is not blown into your face as it would be if it is upwind of you.
Ken

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by RickC » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:19 pm

The usual recommendation for a rocket flare is to fire on your down wind side with the flare pointed slightly down wind so that the exhaust is not blown into your face as it would be if it is upwind of you.
I failed to properly check the contents of my post - Thanks to Ken for pointing this out! I have re-read the post again and everything else still stands.

Do not fire into the wind. The rocket will seek the wind once it's airborne. Always fire with the flare downwind of you and at a slight downwind angle.

Rick

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by RickC » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:32 pm

I'm putting my hand up to this one.

I've reported my original post to the moderator, requesting it's either edited or taken down to avoid potential harm. I certainly don't want anyone to get this sort of thing wrong. I'm very familiar with the use of flares but still typed incorrect advice. This adds weight to the "no flares" argument I guess.

Rick

[Moderator note: post amended as requested, including the quoted text in the post below this]

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by seawolf856 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:33 pm

RickC wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:27 am
Hi All

Just a thought regarding para/rocket flares. It could be your best hope if you've been forced to land (medical/capsized/broken kayak) on a remote beach/gully surrounded by high cliffs. You're in a deep hole. A PLB/VHF or mobile phone may not get a signal out in this situation. They all need "line of sight" to whatever they are trying to communicate with. A laser flare won't help either for the same reason. So there you are with all that electronic stuff... time to build a fire maybe? It's a bit "Castaway" or Robinson Crusoe" at this stage, right?

Now imagine sitting in the same deep hole, waving a 1000ft long pole above you with a blindingly bright omni-directional red light on the top. It would attract a bit of attention - cliff walkers, farmers or other kayaks/boats/ships/aircraft. A parachute flare will achieve 300m elevation, burn for 40 seconds with an intensity twice as bright as a hand-held flare (30,000 Candela for the geeks among you -oh yes, you know who you are!) and cannot be mistaken for anything else. It's very, very bright, even in daylight. It can be seen for up to 35nm on a clear night. Daylight distances are less but it's still pretty effective for 10nm on a sunny day with good visibility.

So I always carry parachute flares when I'm on a coast with high cliffs. If you have to use one for real, the advice is to fire two in succession (slightly downwind - it will then "pop" above you). Fire the second one about one minute after the first. If an observer is not sure of what they have seen the first time, the second one will confirm it. Remember, if you can hear something/someone then there is a very high chance they will see your flares, even if they can't see you.

Just a reminder - don't start firing these things if/when your rescue helicopter turns up! The crew will get a bit ticked off and will probably hover a little way off until you stop shooting at them. Now is the time for that orange smoke, which will also signify to the crew that you have some idea. I'm a big fan of orange smoke in safety kit, especially the floating canister variety.

Finally, there's a duty of care around pyrotechnics. Safe storage and risk management (especially around minors) is essential. This is especially true for those silly little wallets of "mini-flares" that are so interesting to children. They look a lot like a toy and they are seriously dangerous IMHO. They are also a total waste of money as a rescue aid, lacking elevation and burn time. Don't waste your money. If any manufacturer/retailer wants to take issue with this statement I say, bring it onto this forum right now!

Oh, and I'm with Rowland on this whole topic of flares. By all means carry the electronics but proper flares really do still have their place in a sea kayak safety kit.

Cheers, Rick
Hi Rick, I'm with you that in general flares could be your best hope in certain situations, but if you are in a "deep hole" with enough room to poke out a 1000ft long pole, then your PLB will also have enough sky in which to find a satellite to lock on to. So as usual it is going to be down to circumstances. Firing a rocket flare from said deep hole sounds rather risky to me as you will still need a "line of sight" to open sky to release a rocket flare safely and effectively, and you also need somebody outside to see it. Firing one out of a cave horizontally can't ever be a good idea, especially if the wind is blowing in your direction!!.

I agree the mini flares hardly inspire confidence but as my thread says, it is something I can carry very easily and as a third line of defence, they may just make the difference. Waste of money is a matter of opinion, I'm sure all those idiots who put to sea without any safety equipment (the ones on the RNLI TV programmes) would say PFD/PLB/VHF/paddle floats/spare paddles are all a waste of money.

That argument surely can't be levelled at a humble whistle, a VERY underrated piece of safety equipment, which does NOT require line of sight.

Can I whole heartedly agree with you regarding the duty of care around pyrotechnics, including safe storage at home and risk management. If it puts your mind at rest, I store my flares in my shotgun cabinet when at home.

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Re: Carrying flares

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:41 pm

Hi Rick,

Unlike flares, the satellite technology is improving all the time and by the end of 2018 the MEOSAR satellite system (that initiated in 2016) should be fully operational and this will greatly speed the transmission of both the emergency alert and your position even in gullies. Prior to the introduction of the MEOSAR satellites, if your PLB has a clear view of the sky to the south your emergency signal and position would typically be picked up by a GEOSAR (Geostationary above the equator) satellite in 3 minutes. If there was no clear view to the south then there would be a delay of between 3 to 40 minutes until a LEOSAR (Orbiting in a polar orbit) satellite passed overhead.

PLBs also transmit a homing in signal on the 121.5MHz band which is actually the aviation distress frequency. This will be picked up by any aircraft which is overhead and a great deal of transatlantic air traffic passes up the west coast of the UK which is where many sea kayakers operate. This will raise the alarm and give an approximate location as the signal strength varies as the plane moves on and other planes also pick it up.

A friend who is a crew member on one of the Solway RNLI inshore boats told me about a rescue they were involved with. A recreational fishing boat's engine had broken down and it had been blown into a gulley on the Solway coast. The fisherman tried to raise the alarm on his handheld VHF but it was not picked up, so he let off his PLB. The alarm was first picked up by several passenger planes detecting the 121.5 MHz homing signal and relayed to the coastguard. An approximate location allowed the lifeboat crew to be paged and by the time the boat was launched the PLB signal had been received by the LEOSAR and the position was then relayed to the lifeboat crew. The fisherman and boat were then recovered without further incident.

If I was in an enclosed gully the last thing I would do (possibly the very last thing) would be to let off a rocket flare!!



The MAIB recently investigated a case* where a RIB burned out after a box containing a parachute and other flares was knocked and the flare exploded.

When I was working as a junior doctor in A&E, a yachtsman was brought in after he had injured himself letting off a red hand held in a land based exercise at his sailing club. I won't go into too much detail but both his eyes were damaged and there was little left of his right hand.

Douglas

* MAIB Safety Digest 2/2009 case 22

RickC
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Re: Carrying flares

Post by RickC » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:01 pm

Thumbs-up for the whistle - totally agree.

The "hole" analogy was figurative. Picture a very small cove under steep cliffs with little headlands sticking out. So plenty of room to safely fire off a rocket or two. I'd never advocate doing it in a cave!
If I was in an enclosed gully the last thing I would do (possibly the very last thing) would be to let off a rocket flare!!
Douglas, we may define a "gully" differently. I'm not suggesting to anyone that they should deploy a flare in an enclosed space.
When I was working as a junior doctor in A&E, a yachtsman was brought in after he had injured himself letting off a red hand held in a land based exercise at his sailing club. I won't go into too much detail but both his eyes were damaged and there was little left of his right hand.
Again, I don't advocate letting flares off at all. The only reason is for a Mayday, when the situation may warrant the risk. I'm well aware they are seriously dangerous but if there is an imminent risk of death you do what you can. We've always advised protecting the hands as much as possible, maybe with wet clothing. On a yacht, a fire blanket is advised. So for a kayaker, helmet, hood, gloves, spraydeck. Use what you have. Douglas, could you advise (other than not to use them at all, off course)?

I agree PLBs are a great bit of kit. It's just that the rocket might work quicker. I'd use both if there is a serious risk of loss of life. I carry a PLB, plus VHF, whistle and GOK so much safety kit that people hate helping me with my kayak!

The problem with flares is this. If you're a certified leader and you choose not to carry them and there is an incident, you may find yourself accused of failing to take due care. So what do you do - anyone from British Canoeing or ISKGA care to comment?

Cheers, Rick

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