Distress Flares

wpe21.jpgThere are four types of approved pyrotechnics:
Rocket Parachute Flare (A), Multi-Star Flare (B), Hand Flare (C), Buoyant or Hand Smoke Signal (D).   Flares should be stored in a cool, dry location, away from children, and in a watertight container.

Make sure flares are readily accessible in a dry location in case of an emergency.

It is important to note that pyrotechnics are only valid for 4 years from the date of manufacture stamped on each flare.

To dispose of your outdated flares, seek advice from your nearest law enforcement agency or fire department or ask the retailer.

Read the manufacturers instructions before using distress flares or pyrotechnics.

The number and type of distress flares required on board a pleasure boat depends on the length of the vessel, the type of vessel, and the area of operation.

See the chart for details of the flares required by a particular vessel.

Vessels are exempt from carrying pyrotechnic distress signals if:

  • operating in a river, canal or lake in which it can at no time be more than one mile from shore; or
  • engaged in an official competition or in final preparation for an official competition and have no sleeping arrangements.

Examples of where flares are required:

  • vessels operating in any ocean
  • vessels operating in rivers that are navigable and empty into a body of water more than one mile from shore (examples: Fraser River, BC; Red River, MB; St. Mary’s, St. Clair, Detroit, St. Lawrence Rivers, ON; St. Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers, QC; Saint John River, NB.)

wpe23.jpgEasily observed from the surface or air; burns for at least 40 seconds.





wpe24.jpgReadily observed from the surface or air; burns for 4-5 seconds.

Note: some type B flares project only one star at a time. When using this single star type, 2 flares must be fired within 15 seconds of each other — you will need double the number of cartridges to meet the regulations.



wpe25.jpgLimited surface visibility. Best for pin-pointing location during an air search; burns for at least 1 minute.

Note: avoid looking directly at flare while burning; hold it well clear of the boat and down wind.



Smoke (buoyant or hand-held)

wpe26.jpgUse as a day distress signal only; burns for 3 minutes.

Type D flares are allowed only on vessels greater than 9 metres in length and can make up only one half of the required number of flares to be carried.

Note: position smoke flare down wind.