Road flares are a safety device FEW people own and it’s a shame.
These devices save lives – no doubt about it.
And nowadays, with advancements in flare technology, you have more options than ever.
But honestly, it can feel like too many options.
It can be overwhelming to figure out which ones are the best for you.
That’s why you’re here now, and we’re going to clear the air.
So today we’ll be covering the following road flare topics:
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WHY EVERYONE SHOULD OWN A SET OF ROAD FLARES
Most people already know what a road flare is.
They’re a visual warning device for when your vehicle breaks down on the road.
It’s a device used to warn oncoming unsuspecting traffic that something is wrong up ahead.
And these devices are a MUST own.
Why? Because when someone leaves their broken down vehicle on the road at night without an insanely bright warning – they’re putting innocent lives at risk.
Listen, I’m not one to make anyone do something they don’t want to do. But I feel like all vehicles should be required by law to have a set of road flares.
Sure, if someone doesn’t want to wear their seatbelt – I’m fine with that. They’re only hurting themselves. But without clear visual warning of a broken-down vehicle, especially on highways…terrible things happen.
There’s no way to know for sure. but I feel like a “bright as hell” set of road flares could have prevented this:
Or how about this one?
DIFFERENT KINDS OF ROAD FLARES
There are two main types of roadside flares being used today:
- LED electric flares
- Pyrotechnic “fusee” flares
- SnapLight Flares
LED Electric Flares
Modern LED flares are battery-operated, running on several AA or AAA cells.
Most of them are waterproof designs, shaped like a hockey puck with bright LEDs on the outer edge.
These flares can run for hours (even days) on a single set of batteries.
Pyrotechnic flares are often called “fusee” flares.
They are handheld sized cardboard cylinders filled with a bright-burning chemical mixture.
The exterior is often treated with wax or other waterproofing materials. But beware, the fusees can absorb moisture and lose their efficiency over time.
They typically burn for under an hour and produce a lot of heat. So they can also double as firestarters in an emergency.
These are more like the traditional Pyro flares but without the dangerous fire components.
Snaplights work the same way Halloween safety lights work for kids. You know, those neon light sticks parents force their kids to wear hoping to make them more visible…
You just apply pressure to them (or “snap” them) and this creates a chemical reaction of neon bright light.
HOW TO USE ROAD FLARES IN AN EMERGENCY
The entire point of a road flare is to alert other drivers. So it’s important to consider how other drivers will see your flares.
If they’re hard to see or don’t provide enough warning distance, they’re not doing their job.
How Many Flares?
Most road flares sets contain 3-4 individual flares. This is plenty for the majority of road emergencies.
If you decide to go with pyrotechnic fusee flares, get multiple sets as they only burn for a limited time.
Otherwise, with LED flares, just make sure you keep some spare batteries with your set.
Where Do You Place The Flares?
The best location for the flares is determined in part by the type of road your on.
On a one-way road, all traffic should be approaching from behind your car.
In this case, you can place all your flares behind your vehicle to warn drivers before they reach you.
If you’re on the side of a two-way road, be sure to place at least one flare in front and behind your car.
This allows you to warn drivers coming from either direction.
How Far Do You Space The Flares?
Spacing changes based on the type of road your on. You want to give drivers enough warning to stop or avoid your vehicle.
Let’s go over 2 extremes to give you some rough guidance:
On a limited-access divided highway with traffic moving at 70mph –
It this case, you’ll want to put the first warning flare pretty far back behind your vehicle.
This may mean putting the first flare 200-300ft (or further) before your car. With a second flare 100ft closer. A third flare can be placed near the vehicle to give a final warning.
On a two-way, undivided road on a residential street with traffic moving at 25 mph –
Place flares roughly 100ft in either direction.
The bottom line is: You must give other drivers enough warning to slow down or stop to avoid your vehicle.
Speed and “divided vs undivided” are the two biggest factors for optimal placement.
How Can You Make Flares More Visible?
Some LED flares come with magnetic bases or hanging hooks. Why? Because height can drastically increase the mounting options for your flare.
Guard rails, traffic cones, and even roadside vegetation can provide a higher location.
This allows it to shine further down the road.
For flares used at the vehicle location, a magnet base makes the side or roof of the vehicle a great location as well.
How Does Weather Affect Flares?
Wet or snowy conditions can present challenges to both LED and pyrotechnic flares.
Snow or mud can build up on the flare, obscuring its light until it’s cleaned off.
Be sure to check your flares frequently if they show signs of being blocked.
Heavy slush or deep puddles can soak pyrotechnic flares, putting them out prematurely.
KEY FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN A QUALITY ROAD FLARE
The best LED road flares have some common features, so be sure to look out for these:
Chances are that you’ll need road flares most when the weather is worst.
A waterproof design means an LED flare will withstand the worst that nature can throw at it. And not fail when you (and innocent travelers) need it the most.
Multiple Strobe Modes
Most LED flares have a flashing strobe mode, while some also have SOS and flashlight modes.
Either can be helpful and while similar, they are not quite the same thing.
SOS is a universal urgent call for immediate help or assistance. This should only technically be used if someone needs immediate assistance. Usually due to injury.
A regular strobe just signals a warning of a hazard up ahead.
A magnetic base allows you to mount the flare to any steel object – cars, signposts, guard rails, etc.
Sometimes it’s best to have another mounting option that doesn’t require steel surfaces.
A folding hook is a great way to hang the flare from branches or other objects.
Like all emergency equipment, look for a flare with a rugged design.
They need to be able to withstand weather, drops, and falls. Or more likely being run over by vehicles and still function.
A cheap design will not last and you’ll find they fail at the worst possible times.
If you decide to store some pyrotechnic flares in your vehicle kit, there are some features to look out for:
Waterproof Storage Box
As I’ve mentioned, pyrotechnic flares are susceptible to moisture. That’s why it’s so important to keep them dry at all times.
Many people store them in Ziploc plastic bags, but they can often get torn or ripped with rough treatment.
If you’re going to carry them in a vehicle all the time, it’s best to store them in a waterproof box. Just add a desiccant pack to be sure they’re as dry as possible.
While keeping a lighter with the flares is a good plan, it’s best to have flares that can light on its own.
You don’t want to pull out a flare only to realize you don’t have a match or a lighter on you.
That’s why most flares have built-in strikers that allow you to light them like a giant match.
7 BEST ROAD FLARES ON THE MARKET TODAY
1 – Emergency Roadside Flare Discs
These Emergency Roadside Flare Discs are made from the same strength-tested materials used by the Army, making them insanely durable.
Plus, unlike a regular flashlight, these Roadside Discs actually REFLECT light back, in addition to emitting powerful beams on their own.
These discs can be seen from 5,000 feet away, so any oncoming traffic will have plenty of time to react to your presence.
If you are concerned about your safety on the road, or the safety of a loved one, don’t leave it to chance these LED flare discs will give you peace of mind, in case anything should happen.
2 – Hokena Roadside Warning Care Safety Flare Kit
Hokena has packaged a set of five bright LED flares (including batteries) in a solid storage bag. It also includes the tools to replace the batteries. Plus, it has an emergency glass breaking and seatbelt cutting tool.
These flares are very bright, with several lighting modes that will be useful in any situation.
They’re solidly built and feature a strong magnet base.
But the devices are someone on the light side. So they may move if not solidly attached to something.
3 – Cyalume Industrial Grade SnapLight Flare with Wire Stand
The Cyalume SnapLight flare chemical light stick is the flare alternative you didn’t even know you needed!
These durable, waterproof signaling devices are safer and more reliable than typical pyrotechnic flares thanks to their non-flammable, no-heat generated chemistry.
Additionally, these chemical light sticks provide ultra-intense, bright orange light for 30 minutes – no matter what condition or environment they are in.
They’re the perfect choice as emergency or safety lights and an ideal flare alternative.
4 – Garage Monkey Engineering LED Road Safety Flare Roadside Warning Safety Flare Kit
One of the things that set the Garage Monkey kit apart from the others is the fourth flare.
This allows you to be more visible right away!
They also feature 9 different light modes, giving you a lot of options for signaling.
Finally, if you are not 110% thrilled, simply get in touch and they’ll send your money back.
5 – Emergency Roadside Smart Flares Kit
These Emergency Roadside Smart Flares are a highly visible LED road flare.
These super-bright red LEDs array can be seen a mile view at day and night.
It has 3 different flash modes: Strobe(SOS)/Flashlight/Solid and they only require 12 AAA batteries (battery included).
It comes with a solid storage case and a 100% SATISFIED guarantee.
6 – Reliancer 5PCS 18″ Collapsible Traffic Cones with Nighttime LED Lights
If you have extra space in your kit, consider these Reliancer Collapsible Road Cones with LED strobes.
They store in 10″ cube but pop up to give you 5 bright orange, 18″ tall road cones to be visible during the day.
At night, turn on the LED flares and these cones flash to give other drivers plenty of warning.
7 – StonePoint Emergency Road Flare Kit
StonePoint Emergency Road Flare Kit comes with three LED Emergency Beacons.
Also included is a bag to store and protect these LED road flares.
They produce light with 360-degree visibility up to two miles away!
Each light has a 20-hour run time on steady mode, while it has a 60-hour run time in flash mode.
These lights have a powerful magnetic base and are crush resistant for up to a 6,000-pound vehicle.
Times have changed and LEDs road flares are the way to go for most situations.
The only time I would include pyrotechnic flares would be in a winter emergency kit. That way, they can be utilized as a fire starter in a pinch.
Otherwise, they’re not worth the trouble. Skip the toxic smoke and fire risk with vehicle fluids or dry conditions near the road.
Check out some LED road flares and add a bit of visibility to your roadside emergency kit today!
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