BOAT SAFETY - Are your flares out of date?

Boat SAfety - Are you Flares out of Date?

Distress signalling flares can help save lives in an emergency, but they are only as good as their use-by date.

NSW Minister for Ports and Waterways, Paul McLeay and Member for Kiama, Matt Brown, this week launched a new disposal system for out-of-date flares.

“Flares are essential emergency signalling equipment for boats in open waters. Therefore it’s a compulsory safety requirement for boaters to carry them when operating offshore,” said McLeay.

Brown said the problem is flares expire after three years. “After this time, there is no guarantee they will fire when needed,” he said.

“This is why flares must be replaced before they expire and old flares, which are classed as explosives, must be disposed of properly.

“If trouble strikes off the coast, it can be difficult to attract help and that is why flares are essential safety equipment for skippers boating on open seas.

“Every boat going on open seas should carry a minimum of two red hand-flares (for night or day use) and two orange smoke flares (for day use), although some exemptions may apply,” said Brown.

Flares can now be placed into special containers at NSW Maritime centres where they are stored for collection and transported to the Sterihealth facility at Silverwater, Sydney. The expired flares will then be destroyed at ultra-high temperature under strict environmental conditions.

McLeay said the new flare-disposal system was the result of a close partnership between NSW Maritime, WorkCover NSW, and the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.

“There are some 230,000 vessels registered in NSW with around 10 per cent being used for offshore boating,” said McLeay.

“We recognised the need for this service among boaters, with many reporting that they were confused about where to take them.

“Some flares, it appears may have been ending up in landfill. We now have a disposal option that is safer and better for the environment,” McLeay said.

The trial will run until July 2011 and will be reviewed before that date.

Photo (L-R): NSW Ports and Waterways Minister Paul McLeay, NSW Maritime BSO Mike Baldwin, Billy McColl from WorkCover NSW, and Matt Brown, MP, launch a new flare-disposal system at Kiama.