You’re out in a boat with a very experienced sailor friend when he starts feeling ill, then collapses on the deck and passes out. You don’t know enough to pilot the boat yourself or even how to operate the radio, but there are some flares onboard and instructions showing you how to fire them. You can see there are other boats far off in the distance so you figure it’s worth a try. You fire off a flare and it shoots skyward, blazing red high above you. Then you fire off a second one to be sure. Within minutes, the boats are coming toward you and you breathe a sigh of relief; you know help is on its way.
Thank heavens for flares, which have saved countless lives at sea. They’re fantastically simple signaling devices similar to fireworks, but they’re designed to communicate a much more direct message in an emergency. Have you ever wondered what they’re made of and how they work? Let’s take a closer look!