Safety flare usage is something that most people are never taught in driver’s ed. The fact that emergency roadside assistance is often just a phone call away means fewer and fewer people even carry flares with them in their vehicles. Check out these four tips for the best way to handle flares out on the road.
1. Store Them in a Safe Place
Due to the chemicals used in their construction, road flares can be susceptible to heat and, in extreme cases, even melt into a useless puddle if they’re kept in a hot part of your car. For this reason, it’s best to avoid the glove box (unless it’s refrigerated,
2. Decide Where to Put the Flare First
The most important part of safety flare usage is knowing how to place them behind or in front of your vehicle to properly alert other drivers that your automobile is immobilized. The best plan? At least three flares, leading back in a trail to your vehicle over a space of 50 to 100 feet. If you can angle them out slightly into the lane beside you, or away from the shoulder you are stopped on, then that is ideal. Always make sure it’s safe to leave your car or truck before opening the door to place flares.
3. Light Them Slowly and Safely
Safety flare usage requires knowing how to light them up when they’re needed without injuring yourself or anyone else. Once you’ve found the right spot to put your flare, remove the cap gently, hold the flare away from your body and grasp the middle of the flare itself. Strike the end of the flare against the cap quickly, as with a match, and then place the flare on the ground. Make sure to hold the flare with the lighted side down when carrying it to avoid dripping anything onto your hand or clothes.
4. Replace as Needed
Some road flares have a shelf life, so it’s a good idea to check on the ones you have stored in your car once a year to make sure they’re still in good shape. Also keep in mind that when you call a tow truck, mentioning that you have flares on the ground is a great way to help the driver find you more quickly, especially at night or in a high-traffic area. Finally, red flares are the best flares — they’re the easiest to see in any situation and will do the best job signaling that your vehicle is in distress.
Flares can be a useful and a life-saving part of your automotive safety kit, as long as you know how to use them properly.
Check out all the vision and safety parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on safety flare usage, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.