When it all goes terribly wrong, you'll want your flare gun to work without problems. Flares are a short distance signaling device to alert rescue personnel "hey, we're over here". Pyrotechnic flares expire. The military gives them a life of 3 years. The material flares are made from is unstable and it differs greatly from regular ammunition. Even if the flares are stored in dry boxes, they become out-of-date, time marches forward regardless.
Safety equipment requires maintenance and it must be reliable when needed. Replace out-of-date flares, your life depends on it. Have you checked your supply recently ? Do you really remember how old they are ? Why take the chance of it blowing up as it leaves the barrel or worse yet, nothing happens at all ?
What to do with Expired Flares ?
A few options:
- Sanitation department for hazardous waste (perhaps www.earth911.org in your area)
- Police/Fire departments - phone first ! - they'll want to prearrange things
- Marina and boating retailers in the area
- Power Squadron or Coast Guard Auxiliary
Flare guns are not new. US Patent 190263 dated May 1877, belonged to Lt. Edward Very from the US Navy. The term "Very pistol" pertains to pyrotechnic flare guns. The original design was based on a 10 gauge shell and various sizes developed over the years. Many versions were approximately 1 inch in diameter : 25mm, 26.5mm, 28mm, 35mm, 37mm, etc.
A live fire exercise conducted by the Pegasus Project, tested a large amount of expired flares. Over 50% didn't fire at all and a few only lobbed into the air but didn't flare. Buying flares off the internet is definitely a buyer beware market. You may receive merchandise near the end of it's life span i.e only a month or two before it's 3 year expiration date.