safe disposal of marine distress flares

Find out how to safely dispose of time expired pyrotechnics

Pyrotechnics in this case means marine distress flares / signals.

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Do Not

  • Do Not Throw pyrotechnics overboard. see note 1 below
  • Do Not Throw pyrotechnics in the bin.
  • Do Not Use any pyrotechnic, which have been lying in salt water. see note 1 below
  • Do Not Fire them off except in case of emergency. see note 2 below

Note 1 Salt water causes the flares internal aluminium casing to corrode and swell, it also makes the propellant unstable. Therefore if you pick one up it may go off of its own accord and if you are holding it, it may explode as it cannot exit the casing via the top as it may get stuck in the casing. These get washed up on beaches and can cause injuries to young children who find them and pick them up.

Note 2 This not only wastes the emergency services time but could delay the response to a real emergency

It is also a criminal offence under the The Merchant Shipping act 1995 & Prevention of Collisions Regulations 1972, punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years and a fine. The Merchant Shipping Regulations

So what can you do to safely dispose of marine pyrotechnics!

1.) Hand them back to the Ships Chandler when you buy new ones as they may have their own network and facilities to dispose of them.

The MCA / HM Coastguard has not and does not accept pyrotechnics from companies or organisations.
i.e. public money is not used to subsidise private business.

2.) Contact your local council as they may have disposal facilities.

View the latest advice from the MCA Time expired Pyrotechnics Disposal Advice
Disposal of out of date or damaged pyrotechnics

Point of interest. The most out of date pyrotechnic handed in to us was 38 years out of date.
Would you feel safe firing that one off.

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