Flares

Ensure you carry the required flares for your vessel and know how to use them.

Many recreational vessels are required to carry two hand-held red distress flares and two hand-held orange smoke signal flares, of an approved type, when operating on coastal and enclosed waters.

Drawing of handheld smoke signal

Hand held orange smoke signals

These can be seen for up to 4km (10km by aircraft). They should be used in daylight to pinpoint your position. They must comply with Australian Standard AS 2092 "Pyrotechnic marine distress flares and signals for pleasure craft".

Drawing of a distress flare

Hand held red distress flares

These have a visibility range of 10km, are designed for use at night but can also be seen during the day. They must comply with Australian Standard AS 2092 "Pyrotechnic marine distress flares and signals for pleasure craft".

Drawing of a red star parachute distress rocket

Red star parachute distress rocket

These are designed to fire a single red star to a height of approximately 300m. The star burns while falling for at least 40 seconds and can be seen from the greatest distance due to its intensity and elevation from sea level.

When operating more than 2 nm offshore in coastal waters, a mechanically or sailed powered vessel must carry one red star parachute rocket flare.

Storage, lifetime and disposal

Keep flares away from fuel or combustibles and store in an accessible dry place.

Flares hold a serviceable life of three years. You must ensure the flares are current and obtain new ones if their use-by dates are reached. Expiry dates are stamped on the side of each flare. In cases of an expiry month, the last day of that month is the expiry date.

For disposal, contact your local police station to see if they will accept your expired flares.

In an emergency

Using distress flares

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