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Road Flares: Essential for Accident Scene Safety

Updated on March 20, 2011

A road flare is used as a piece of emergency equipment to warn people of hazards on the road or highway; an accident scene, a fallen tree, closed lanes or other issues requiring safety precautions. Ambulances, fire trucks and police officers all carry road flares in their emergency response kits. Motorists can also carry road flares for emergency situations. In fact, they should be a staple item in your auto first aid kit. You can find flares to purchase at automotive stores or in safety catalogues that sell supplies and equipment for emergency responders.

A road flare contains an insulated stick filled with explosive material. When a flare is activated, usually by forcefully removing a tab, a fuse at the flare's end is ignited and will stay lit for about 15 to 20 minutes. The time it stays lit, depends on the design of the flare. Additional substances may be added to a road flare to so that it burns green, yellow, red, or blue. A flare design may also incorporate safety measures like roll prevention or a spark deflector to avoid starting a fire.

There are also battery operated road flares available that eliminate the risks of roadside fires. The only problem is that many people neglect to check their batteries on a regular basis and may find that their flares won't work when they really need them to.

The light that is given off by a road flare is very bright, which makes it visible from great distances and in poor visibility conditions. Proper use of road flares usually includes laying several flares in a row in order to attract the immediate attention of approaching traffic and make them aware that caution is to be used. It's also very important to collect the flares, once they've burned out, as they can be a hazard if not disposed of properly. 

When storing road flares, keep them in a dry, cool place away from direct light. Many flare kits are sold with a protective container, or one can be purchased separately, just for that purpose.

Drivers that have been in an accident can set flares to warn oncoming traffic that there may be an obstacle on the road. Flares should be placed on the lane that the accident happened and in either direction so any approaching drivers are not confused. It's also important to consider your own safety when putting out flares; you don't want to be struck by another vehicle.

Emergency personnel can use road flares to warn of obstacles on the road, road closures, as well as to guide the approach for other emergency vehicles arriving by road or air. This is the reason that people are discouraged from messing with the flares at an accident scene.

When you see road flares that have been put in place, you should slow your vehicle until you can determine the reason they are there. Also use caution when passing flag people that are directing traffic. The last thing anyone wants at an accident scene is another accident.

A Look at the FlareAlert Magnetic LED Safety Flare

Disclaimer: The information on this Hub page does not constitute medical, legal, commercial, product, and/or service advice or endorsement of any vendor, supplier and/or brand, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the author. Listing of an entity or service on this Hub page is not a warranty of the quality or efficacy of the products or services furnished by any entity. The author is not directly compensated by any entity other than the advertising placement services shown on this page.


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    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 7 years ago from Northern, California

      Greta information. I am linking to this hub from my newest hub. It ties in nicely and adds a great off-shoot of information to my readers. Thanks for doing such a great job!

    • profile image

      LeoSavage 7 years ago


      Thanks for the tips On safety flares!!

      I can even learn form this.

      You did a wonderful job explaning them.

      Thanks for the tips!

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      Yes, they should be orange. Thanks!

    • healthgoji profile image

      healthgoji 8 years ago

      Thank you for your safety conscience information. So far so good in that I have never needed to use a flare. But I do believe there is one in our trunk and do hope it stays there.

      I think they should all be colored, glowing orange though.

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      Yes, flares are definitely de rigeur for every motorist, and the safety vest is a great idea too! Thanks!

    • profile image

      1969bronco 8 years ago

      After almost getting hit while changing a tire I also have a bright safety vest stored with my spare tire. The almost glows in the dark.

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      Novak  8 years ago

      That is a great thing to have with you at all times. You never know when you could be in a situation where the emergency vehicles are not going to arrive to the scene before another vehicle could become involved in a bad situation... you could light the flares to warn other motorists until the situation is cleared.