We’ve passed the midpoint of the summer season, meaning it’s time to start thinking about the end of summer fun. While you’re getting the kids ready to go back to school and packing away the outdoors supplies, you might want to check the expiration dates on the consumables. Bad batteries can leave you in the dark if you fail to catch them, but replacement batteries are easy to find and disposal is just a trip to an e-waste center away.
Signal flares are a bit harder. If you own a boat, like many do here in San Diego, you probably own a flare gun since you’re legally obligated to have three signal flares of some kind if you go boating at night or if your boat is more than 16′ in length in case of accident or breakdown. Car owners are advised to have some road flares on hand for emergency purposes as well. Hikers and campers might own a flare gun of their own in case they get lost, though they might think twice about firing it at the height of burn season.
Since you’re unlikely to use up your flares (it’s rare that you break down or get in an car or boating accident), they’ll eventually expire (many brands have a shelf life of thee boating seasons or 3½ years). They should work past the expiration date but they might not, and the risk of a misfire or a fizzle increases. Both can lead to an accident and injury, not to mention leaving you without a desperately needed emergency signal.
The conscientious outdoors lover should replace old, expired flares, but that leaves having to figure out what to do with the old ones.