Author Topic: Forgot about flares!  (Read 2922 times)

Offline nctrees

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Forgot about flares!
« on: April 13, 2011, 02:06:07 PM »
Saw some automotive flares sitting on the shelf at TrueValue.  Reminded me of watching the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Kim#Snowbound Kati Kim story.  The husband, wife and child were stranded in their vehicle in the snow for ~8 days. At one point she said her husband removed the spare tire and planned to burn it to signal for help.

At some point they heard a helicopter or airplane close by.  He went to set the tire on fire using kindling (including his daughters stuffed animal) but couldn't get a good fire going good enough in the snow to get the tire to catch fire.  Needless to say the aircraft left and wasn't heard from again.  The story ends in the husband trying to walk to get help and dies.  Wife and child picked up about a day later when spotted by helicopters.  I think about 7 days after they tried to signal the first one.

Now from my dad letting me have ones that were old to play with as a kid, I know they burn really hot, very visible, and can melt through chain link fencing ;).  I already had large glowsticks in our vehicles for signaling, but no flares.  I picked up 3 for each vehicle.  Maybe if I ever need to get a fire/tire burning quickly, the flares will accomplish the job.

Offline endurance

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2011, 03:22:35 PM »
Just be sure to puncture the tire before igniting.  The alternative is having flaming chunks of tire hurled at hundreds of feet per second in all directions.  That'll mess up a guy's day.
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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2011, 05:37:21 PM »
on the other hand that should be easy to see from a distance.

Offline nctrees

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2011, 12:02:43 PM »
Just be sure to puncture the tire before igniting.  The alternative is having flaming chunks of tire hurled at hundreds of feet per second in all directions.  That'll mess up a guy's day.

LOL.  Yeah, I took that into account when thinking about it :)

Offline Asclepius

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2011, 04:18:05 PM »
The mistakes made by the Kim family are great examples of everything you should not do. The situation they got themselves into is avoidable by just about everybody.

Offline endurance

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2011, 10:47:25 AM »
We had a similar incident happen on the Rampart Range about a decade ago.  Couple went to go camping in mid-to-late March, big snowstorm came in and dumped 3' of wet, heavy snow.  Road was impassable and they were 10-12 miles from the nearest human habitation of any kind.  The husband/boyfriend walked for help in jeans and died about 1.5 miles from the car.  Female was still in the vicinity of the car, died of exposure/hypothermia (can't recall if she was inside the car or not.  I'm pretty sure the car was out of gas when they found it).  Because of the time of year, the snow melted out in about a week and a half.  They clearly panicked and it cost them their lives.  Just the bare minimal in preps would have made a great adventure story to tell and they've be no worse for wear.  Even without 10 days of food, just the ability to create some heat and melt snow for warm water would have kept them going long enough.  Instead, they left a vague itinerary that didn't help search and rescue until it was too late.
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Offline jimbrtxva

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2011, 11:54:41 AM »
Also, use the triangle reflectors to save on flares.  They provide constant reflection all day.  Save flares for night or when you hear a vehicle.

Offline TwoXForr

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2012, 10:43:55 PM »
A neat trick I learned recently with a glow stick for night signaling, tie a string to the end of the glow stick, then to signal twirl the glow stick in a circle, the speed in a circle makes a wonderful signal.  Give it a try.

Offline RPZ

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2012, 06:21:54 AM »
Alternative in daytime would be a signal mirror. Cheap, simple and works with a simple visual Morse SOS. One of these might work even to signal passing airliners at altitude.

Remember that any signal attempts with aircraft other than dedicated SAR there's a better chance of them seeing you the farther away they are, coming towards your direction or flying 90 degrees to your position as most passsenger planes have very limited view below and none behind.

A good investment too might be one of the marine type flare kits. An Orion flare pistol and a half dozen flares is not out of reach for most people, and unlike fires they can be put into action "right now".

There are also various strobe light to be had which are cheap to buy and can be left on at night if you need to sleep. Just place it on the most exposed open piece of ground nearby (or attach one to a stick in the ground if there is deep snow) so they can be seen from the greatest distance possible. Have spare batteries and maybe a redundant unit or two.

Where legal (and they are in most all places I know of) a blank firing pistol can be used to attract attention and in mountainous terrain in cold air sound travels a great distance. Have plenty of "ammo" and fire three shots about three seconds apart at half hour or hour intervals in daytime.

Offline doublehelix

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2012, 03:52:24 PM »
I always keep a 10 minute highway flare in my bob to start wet things on fire  ;D

Just don't inhale the fumes.

Offline flippydidit

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2012, 01:24:02 AM »
Hand sanitizer and a Bic will get almost any fire started.
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Offline nelson96

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2012, 02:40:00 PM »
I always keep a 10 minute highway flare in my bob to start wet things on fire  ;D

I used to keep a 5 minute flare (smaller and easier to pack than a 10).  Discovered that if you don't rotate them regularly you'll find that the igniter won't work when you need it.  When they do light however, they work better than anything I have ever packed in my pack.


Hand sanitizer and a Bic will get almost any fire started.

I now pack this instead, works great.  Although I quit using actual "hand sanitizer" (some brands don't light as well as others) so I've played around with making my own using 99% isopropyl alcohol and dish soap.  Next I'm going to play around with fumed silica as a binding/thickening agent. . . .  You can also buy fire gel at any store that sells gelled fire starter for wood/pellet stoves and fireplaces.  It works MUCH better than hand sanitizer.
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Offline RuggedCyclist

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2013, 12:07:18 AM »
Can anybody think of any other uses for flares? I have a few in my daily driver jeep that I forgot about until now, and reading that story I'm really glad I have them!!

Offline Ralph

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2013, 12:29:16 PM »
About a month ago I thought of the 'old style' red road flares. I checked Amazon- no luck. They had light sticks but no flares. I found a few flares in a hardware store in Pennsylvania, but got to thinking about light sticks. I have a couple but never used one- I know, you should always try out gear. Anyway, some of the light sticks are made to be used as road flares, complete with wire stands. What kept me from buying them was that from the picture they had I don't think they would be bright enough to be very effective in the city where I mostly drive and there's bright lights almost everywhere. I've kept one of those D battery blinking strobes in my car for some time now. Fortunately I haven't gotten stuck on the road, but as far as being an effective warning or signal device I am thinking flare, strobe, and light stick in order of effectiveness. Any thoughts or other suggestions? I also keep forgetting most of the lights I carry have some sort of strobe mode.
Something I've found that works quite well is taking an empty hand sanitizer bottle and filling it with denatured alcohol. The bottle is made to hold alcohol and with the pump screwed down it doesn't leak. The pump can be used to dispense it where needed, and will even fuel a dry Zippo in a pinch. I keep one in my EDC bag and the nice thing is the sanitizer bottles come in quite a few sizes. I should put one of my home made 'cat' stoves in my kit. The sanitizer bottle I have could fuel it a few times.

Offline JerseyVince

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2013, 12:47:53 PM »
I bought 2 Smittybilt UFO LED safety lights last year. They run on CR123s cost $20 each and run 24hours plus in blink modes other modes 8-10 hours. They have 8+ modes ranging from strobe-sos-rotate police style A really nice emergency light for $20. They are magnetic and waterproof so you can stick it on your bumper or roof Kojak style while you wait inside or place them on the street behind you if you get a flat. They are plenty bright too, these guys stick out at night

smittybilt.com under lighting

Offline Ralph

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2013, 12:20:40 PM »
I just checked out the UFO LED light on their site. They look interesting and with moving patterns should be easy to spot. I know a couple people who keep nothing in their cars so I may get a few and give a couple away- with spare batteries (keeping one for me). Thanks for a good suggestion!

Offline JerseyVince

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2013, 01:55:38 PM »
There's a couple mistakes on their site about the flares most importantly is the part that says the batteries last a year, CR123s store for 10years

I'm surprised they don't advertise them more, Its a bargain at 20$ for a light that can replace flares especially the safety for people who don't handle flares often

Offline allofthemonkeys

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2013, 05:13:52 PM »
CR123's can store for a long time but any device can drain the batteries even when not in use.
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Offline JerseyVince

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2013, 06:48:11 PM »
They don't mention parasitic drain in the specs and I deal with it in some flashlights and electronics I have but these lights don't seem to have a need for a constant current. The flares I have are still on the original batteries and they are a year old now plus the time the spend in the pkg. You're right thought its something to be aware of in many devices

Offline inconel710

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2013, 11:25:49 PM »
Fire is one of those things you should have backups to your backups.  Any kit I have has matches and a ferro rod.  With another ferro rod somewhere else.  With the knowledge that my wife smokes and will have a Bic with her.  Even my son's kit has a Sparkie and matches in it.  That's before I get to the petroleum jelly cotton balls, pine resin (aka fatwood), magnesium rod, hand sanitizer, candle, Esbit tablets, and/or Trangia stove in my packs.
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Offline inconel710

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Re: Forgot about flares!
« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2013, 11:34:30 PM »
I've been watching Les Stroud's "Survivor Man Secrets" and in the fire episode, flares did not work for him.  Of course, they were expired ones, but that's probably realistic.  Matches get used, ferro rods never go "bad", and if you're a smoker, lighters get used.  Flares, not so much.

Of course, I'm separating fire from lighting devices.  Flashlights are another topic in my mind.  A decent headlight being my top priority followed by another flashlight.  Chem lights are for fun or last ditch.  The chem light on a rope is a great signalling device, but it's not very bright for working around camp like a head lamp (try it sometime).  It's also a one use item (like a flare).  I can use a headlamp or flashlight to get a fire going and then turn it off to save the batteries.  Once you crack a chem light, you might as well let the kids use them for lightsabers while you figure out how to get out of the mess you're in.
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