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InquisitiveScouter

Wilderness Survival - Use of Flares

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Posted (edited)

All right, Scouters!  Weigh in on this one, please!

Wilderness Survival Merit Badge has a requirement to "Show five different ways to attract attention when lost."

A Scout who wishes to complete this badge has asked if he can light a flare, such as those carried in road vehicles, aircraft, and boats.

I say, "Yes."  These are not classified in our state laws as fireworks.  As long as they are used in accordance with the safety instructions they are sold with, and under adult supervision (for the training and badge), with appropriate precautions to prevent a fire, I think they are fine.

But that got me to thinking...what about a flare gun?  Also not classified as a firearm.  As long as emergency authorities (our local county emergency dispatch has said they are good with) are notified you will use them...and in accordance with manufacturer safety instructions / adult supervision / open area / fire protection / etc.  I even called the FAA...they are cool with it as long as we issue a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) so Air Traffic Control knows if it is called in....  easily done...

We have several people with extensive training on use of these, who will supervise.  I think all the bases are covered...so now I just have to clear it with council...

Road/marine flare?

Marine/aircraft flare gun?

Would you say "no"?  And why?  

P.S.  Also, wearing gloves, safety glasses, and hearing protection

 

 

Edited by InquisitiveScouter

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Posted (edited)
47 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

All right, Scouters!  Weigh in on this one, please!

Wilderness Survival Merit Badge has a requirement to "Show five different ways to attract attention when lost."

A Scout who wishes to complete this badge has asked if he can light a flare, such as those carried in road vehicles, aircraft, and boats.

I say, "Yes."  These are not classified in our state laws as fireworks.  As long as they are used in accordance with the safety instructions they are sold with, and under adult supervision (for the training and badge), with appropriate precautions to prevent a fire, I think they are fine.

But that got me to thinking...what about a flare gun?  Also not classified as a firearm.  As long as emergency authorities (our local county emergency dispatch has said they are good with) are notified you will use them...and in accordance with manufacturer safety instructions / adult supervision / open area / fire protection / etc.  I even called the FAA...they are cool with it as long as we issue a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) so Air Traffic Control knows if it is called in....  easily done...

We have several people with extensive training on use of these, who will supervise.  I think all the bases are covered...so now I just have to clear it with council...

Road/marine flare?

Marine/aircraft flare gun?

Would you say "no"?  And why?  

P.S.  Also, wearing gloves, safety glasses, and hearing protection

 

 

So, are you asking if someone needs to consider life shooting a flare gun or death with some possible risk to the environment? When you're cold, hungry and thirsty, what should a scout do?

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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While it technically meets the requirement, I think it would be better to steer the scout toward something they are more likely to have on them in the woods.

Not sure if the Guide to Safe Scouting covers shooting flare guns, but I'm going to say probably not a good idea.

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I think the question is not if it is allowed, but rather is it practical.  I've never camped with a flare in the vicinity.  I don't even carry these in my truck.  I think it is a bit much to do with the WS MB.  There should be some expectation of what is practical.  Although burning tires with the black smoke is a great attractant, it isn't practical for that training.  I think that is a skill the family could teach outside scouting if the need is there.  Sometimes, you have to say "good idea, but not in the scouts".

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The only time we as Sea Scouts get to use flares are when we visit the Coast Guard base and the scouts get to practice using expired flares.  It is a great time and very much under controlled conditions.

I wouldn't use one anywhere need the wilderness.

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Rarity you'd have one in a true wilderness setting, especially a setting where you wouldn't have adults with you to use it.  That said, I would not actually let the scout set it off to show they know how to use it.  They could easily show how they would determine the direction to set it off, what overhead obstacles to avoid, etc. with a flare, without having them truly set it off in a mock wilderness setting during the summer when wildfire risk is high.  Just not a good idea.  Having them set it off in a wide open parking lot, doesn't really get to the learning objective of the MB requirement IMO. 

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Wilderness Survival . . .  

First thing to do.... take inventory of what you have after the "Accident"  that resulted in one's worry about surviving.   

Anyone read "Hatchet"  lately?  

My first Jamboree at Da Summit ,  we were issued ID necklaces with cards attached for different purposes:  Admission to the campsite,  meal tickets,  personal ID , and a small (maybe 3" square) brown plastic thingy.   This thingy, we were told, was "IN CASE" we got lost in the woods.  It was , they said, an infra-red reflector, meant to make it easy for rescue copters to find us . "What if we are injured, fell down a ravine (there were such things at Da Summit) ?  " No problem, just wave the brown plastic thingy and they will find you....  Infra-red reflector?   The State Police use Infra-red detectors to zero in on human body heat.....  The thingy is in my Jamboree souvenir book, ready to save me. 
I have never seen or heard of anything similar since. 

Flares? Road fusee?   If you got'em, smoke, er, use'em at the proper time.   A short instruction on their use would not be out of order.   Decap, locate the two strikers,  strike the long end on the short end so the striking goes AWAY from yourself. The thousand degree flame will melt metal, be careful where you point it. 

Flare gun?  Sure, same thing.  Hand phaser to  heat a rock to radiative glow?   Absolutely, go for it...... 

Tramp10 feet high  "SOS " in the sand/dirt,  how droll. 

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I think it's a great idea because I had it too.  I thought it would just be fun and educational, wasn't thinking of any rank or MB. Never actually got around to suggesting it because the cost of the flares discouraged me.  We live by open water so my thinking is that the troop would have done it on land but by open water to prevent chance of fire.  The troop would have notified and gotten any necessary approvals during planning.  It sounds like you've thought things through.

I traveled up and down the east coast and have carried road flares in my trunk for the past 20 plus years.  We live by the water and it's my understanding that every boat requires a flare gun.  Flares are supposed to be replaced every few years so if the cost is prohibitive and you plan ahead, you may be able to find marinas or boaters willing to donate.

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5 hours ago, SSScout said:

Flare gun?  Sure, same thing.  Hand phaser to  heat a rock to radiative glow?   Absolutely, go for it...... 

Will you marry me??

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5 hours ago, HashTagScouts said:

true wilderness setting

You can be in a "true wilderness setting" in your front yard.  Flood waters rising? Tornado rip through your neighborhood and trees are down everywhere? No EMS response within 30 minutes of you?  You are in a survival situation....

6 hours ago, mashmaster said:

It is a great time and very much under controlled conditions.

Concur

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4 hours ago, thrifty said:

We live by the water and it's my understanding that every boat requires a flare gun.

We live near Chesapeake Bay, and most families have some kind of boat...and most have flares.  Very practical here...

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5 hours ago, SSScout said:

No problem, just wave the brown plastic thingy and they will find you....  Infra-red reflector? 

GLINT tape?

 

 

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If there is one type of boating safety equipment you are unlikely to use until you need it in an emergency, it's pyrotechnic visual distress signals - as in flares, rockets, smoke signals, and other attention getting devices that burn, sputter, smoke or explode.

The Coast Guard requires most recreational boats 16 feet and larger to carry equipment to signal for assistance an approves two types. Non-pyrotechnic devices are straightforward and include a three-foot-square orange signal flag for day use and for night, an electric light that flashes the international SOS signal 50 to 70 times per minute. (Dye markers and signal mirrors, though useful to attract attention and often carried by boaters, are not Coast-Guard-approved).

From the stern of a boat, an orange smoke is tested in day light near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge

In the pyrotechnic category, the regulations are broad and how you fill the requirement for your particular type of boating is fairly flexible. The choices include a variety of red hand-held or aerial flares for day and/or night use, and devices that emit orange smoke for daytime use.

The Coast Guard sets a 42-month service life and expiration dates are stamped on the devices. The International Maritime Organization approves signals for commercial use on the high seas with a SOLAS (Safety of Life At Sea) rating. These devices far exceed Coast Guard standards for luminosity and many boaters use the more expensive SOLAS devices or the added margin of safety they provide.

If you opt for pyrotechnics, you must carry three devices approved for day and/or night use but beyond that, you have to mix and match what you wish to carry. By far, pyrotechnics are the popular choice and the majority of boaters opt to meet minimum Coast Guard requirements with hand-held flares or gun-launched meteors that are approved for day/night use.

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47 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

If there is one type of boating safety equipment you are unlikely to use until you need it in an emergency, it's pyrotechnic visual distress signals - as in flares, rockets, smoke signals, and other attention getting devices that burn, sputter, smoke or explode.

The Coast Guard requires most recreational boats 16 feet and larger to carry equipment to signal for assistance an approves two types. Non-pyrotechnic devices are straightforward and include a three-foot-square orange signal flag for day use and for night, an electric light that flashes the international SOS signal 50 to 70 times per minute. (Dye markers and signal mirrors, though useful to attract attention and often carried by boaters, are not Coast-Guard-approved).

From the stern of a boat, an orange smoke is tested in day light near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge

In the pyrotechnic category, the regulations are broad and how you fill the requirement for your particular type of boating is fairly flexible. The choices include a variety of red hand-held or aerial flares for day and/or night use, and devices that emit orange smoke for daytime use.

The Coast Guard sets a 42-month service life and expiration dates are stamped on the devices. The International Maritime Organization approves signals for commercial use on the high seas with a SOLAS (Safety of Life At Sea) rating. These devices far exceed Coast Guard standards for luminosity and many boaters use the more expensive SOLAS devices or the added margin of safety they provide.

If you opt for pyrotechnics, you must carry three devices approved for day and/or night use but beyond that, you have to mix and match what you wish to carry. By far, pyrotechnics are the popular choice and the majority of boaters opt to meet minimum Coast Guard requirements with hand-held flares or gun-launched meteors that are approved for day/night use.

And knowing what they are and how to use them are Sea Scout rank requirements 🙂

If they have a Safety at Sea program near you, take your unit it is a great time.  They get to use flares including the pistol type.  Learn how to use a real firehose, get in survival suits and swim in them, put out fires with fire extinguishers, and a bunch of other fun things.

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