Home Pyrotechnics Flares 5 Important Facts About Hand Flares

5 Important Facts About Hand Flares

5 Important Facts About Hand Flares

A hand flare is a little cylindrical stick that, when triggered, emits a strong red smoke or light without causing an explosion. When activated, hold out leeward. There are so many questions that need answering, like if handheld flares are visible at nighttime.

Yes, hand flares are visible at night, but not all. Red hand-held flares can be used throughout the day, but they are certainly most useful at night or in low visibility conditions like fog or haze. However, the orange one releases smoke that goes undetected in the dark. 

Signal flares emit a brilliant red light when held, but smoke flares (also known as smoke signals) are meant to be held in hand, set on the ground, or dumped overboard into the sea to emit massive plumes of colored (usually orange or red) smoke.

Important Facts About Handheld Flares

The following are some interesting facts about handheld flares and their everyday uses. 

1. Red handheld flares are highly visible in the dark.

Red hand flares are, as the name suggests, red. They are designed for use at night and burn for about 45 seconds at 15,000 candle power. The potential sighting range at night is 10–12 km. They can launch up to 5 to 10 nautical miles at night. 

On the contrary, orange smoke flares are not suitable for nighttime. They offer very limited visibility, up to 1.4 nautical miles when launched into the air. However, during the day, the orange-coloured smoke signal is likely to attract more attention.

2. It is imperative that flares are disposed of properly

It is considered illegal to dump a hand flare due to its high-risk nature. Some manufacturers recommend igniting expired flares to dispose of them. Contact your local law enforcement agency, fire department, or marine store to ensure that expired flares are disposed of properly.

3. All flares expire

Flares are only effective for four years from the date of manufacturing. Before utilizing a flare, always verify the date of manufacture and/or expiry date.

4. Hand flares are a hazard

Hand flares can cause fatalities and serious injuries if one isn’t familiar with their operationality. Flares emit hazardous fumes and smoke. Practice how to use a hand flare and use flares that are soon to expire, but make sure they are the same make and model as the ones you are replacing. 

Flares must be easily accessible: in a waterproof container, away from moisture and heat sources above 60 degrees Celsius, and at a location where they don’t get too much pounding in difficult circumstances.

5. Hand Flare Colors Have Meanings What Do Flare Colours Mean?

Colour is one of the primary distinctions between varieties of flares. A white flare is used to announce non-emergency situations, such as finishing a race, whereas red flares are used to signal an emergency. The presence of strontium nitrate gives red flares their characteristic hue.


Flares are an efficient tool for communicating distress and indicating your location since they are extremely visible in the ocean and in the air at night. They’re ideal for nighttime use because they’re incandescent, and their color allows better visibility.