Alternatives to pyrotechnic flares

The Coast Guard, RTCM SC 132 is writing standards for alternatives to pyrotechnic flares.  The purpose of the alternative program is to relieve some of the hazards, transportation, and disposal issues associated with pyrotechnic signal products.  In the meantime, commercial and recreational vessels may use Electronic Visual Distress Signal Devices such as strobes and laser flares in addition to the required VDS products and decide if they want to keep pyrotechnics after the alternative products are approved.

With this in mind, North American Laser Flares developed a mount for the 12 gauge aerial flare pistol as it meets the carriage requirements for day and night signals.  They feel the flare pistol when used properly poses less risk to the user and the environment over hand held flares.  It was not a surprise to find that Pyrotechnic flare manufactures suggest that hand held flares “should” be carried in addition to aerial flares, however there is no Coast Guard requirement to do so.

Being in favor of clean seas, we found this “should” to be a good opportunity for recreational vessel operators to eliminate a large number of handheld flares from the coastal environment.  We developed a mounting fixture that slips over the barrel of a popular 12 gauge marine aerial flare pistol carried by most of the recreational vessels.  This mount enables the mariner to turn his or her Flare Gun into an Electronic Visual Distress Signal product by attaching either the strobe light or a laser flare.   The flare pistol already meets the carriage requirements and  EVDSD products  will give you many hours of safe locatable signal time.  Signal products attached to the flare gun also eliminate the need to look around for additional distress signals products in a distress situation.

Jim O’Meara, CEO of North American laser Flares, is a retired Alaskan pilot surviving 40 years of blue skies and heavy weather.  He is no stranger to the risks and benefits of flying, sailing, or commercial fishing.   North American Laser Flares is in the life saving business with a stated purpose to develop products that offer the best chance of survival.  North American Laser Flares does not sell the aerial flare gun nor does any flare manufacturer currently promote North American’s EVDSD products.   


By Ocean Navigator