How To Set Up Road Flares

Imagine this: It’s late at night and very dark out. Your vehicle has broken down on the side of the highway, and even though it is late, there is still a lot of traffic. Are the other drivers going to be able to see your car, or are you in a very dangerous situation? Whether you are broken down or in an accident, when you are at the side of the road, especially at night, you are at risk of more danger because it only takes a second for another driver to look away and go off the road, right into you and your car.

What is the best way to avoid additional troubles when you are on the side of the road at night after a breakdown or an accident? Setting up road flares is one way, and when used properly, they can mean the difference between life and death in some cases.

What Are Road Flares?

Do you love fireworks and other pyrotechnics? Because basically, this is what a road flare is. A road flare is a type of pyrotechnic that produces the light you need, but does not have the explosion that we associate with fireworks and other pyrotechnics. A typical road flare is also known as a fusee, and it will burn for approximately 10 minutes to one hour. It is these that you will often find in many ready-to-go roadside emergency kits that you purchase. If you are making your own emergency kit, you can buy flares separately to put in it.

Flares or Electric Strobes?

One of the biggest problems with road flares is that people are afraid to use them because of the danger involved. As long as they are used properly, there should be no danger in using road flares. But for those who are still afraid to use them but would still like to know that they have lights in case of an accident or breakdown at night, there is an alternative. You can now purchase electric strobe lights that will also let others know that you are at the side of the road. These light are put together using bright LED lights, and if you do not like actual road flares, these should be a part of your emergency roadside kit.

How to Light a Road Flare

Lighting a road flare is fairly easy, but there are a few safety precautions that need to be taken when you are using them. After all, there is fire involved, and you want to make sure that you, everyone in your vehicle, and emergency workers are going to be as safe as possible.
Here are some easy steps to light a road flare:

  • Find the right location: Make sure that if at all possible, you place the road flares on a flat part of the road. There should be no grass or other vegetation around the flare that can catch on fire. Not only should you have the road flares near your car, there should also be one about one hundred steps or so from the front of the car, and one about the same distance behind. This will make it easier for oncoming traffic to see you.
  • Remove the cap: At one end of the flare, there will probably be a cap to cover the rough striking surface. Remove this before doing anything else. Check to see if the cap is made with fold out tabs or a flat side, which will help to keep the flare from rolling away while it is on the ground. Now, twist the end of the cap gently to remove it from the flare.
  • Hold the flare away: When you are lighting a road flare, it is important that you hold the flare as far as you can from your body.
  • How to stand: You should be standing with one of your shoulders facing into the wind when you are about to light a road flare. Hold the flare by the middle of the stick, and make sure that it is pointed away from yourself and others.
  • Light the flare: Use a surface such as the pavement to light your road flare. You will strike the flare in the same manner as you would a match. Remember to always move the flare away from your body as you are striking it, and not towards you. The flare will spray a little bit, so hold it as far from your body as you can.
  • Place the flare: Carry the flare to where you want to place it, pointing the flame down. Put the cap on the unlit end of the flare to use as a stand, and then place the flare on the ground carefully. Do not drop it, as you will not have any control over where it lands. Make sure that you place the flare where it is not going to be near other flammable materials. If you think you will need to have it burning longer, you can place the flare over an unlit one, which will light as the other goes out.
  • Extinguish flames: Once you are ready to get back on the road, it is important that you extinguish any flares that are still burning. If you do not have any water or other liquids to douse them with, tap them against the ground to break off the burning part, which will quickly extinguish. Do not bother trying to smother this type of flame because it is most likely not going to work, and you will just be wasting your time.

Road flares are just one of the many things that should be in your roadside emergency kit.

No matter where you live, you always need to be prepared for any type of emergency. Make sure that in addition to road flares, you also have a couple of blankets and a change of clothing, flashlights, tools, a spare tire, paper towels or another type of cloth, and anything else you think you should have to keep you and your family safe on long drives.

About the Author:
Andrei Zakhareuski is the founder of Find-a-driving-school.ca. He has been writing for beginner Canadian drivers for several years.
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