You’re driving home alone on a winding road one dark night, listening to your favorite podcast to help pass the time, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere you hear a pop and realize that your evening just took a turn for the worse. That’s right, you have a flat tire.
It’s extremely dark out and you can see headlights in the distance. You’re going to have to put on the spare tire so you can make it home, but doing so requires you to work in the dark on the shoulder of the road, a potentially dangerous situation at any time, but even more so when there is little light. What you need are emergency road flares, a highly effective tool for warning other motorists of your situation and to be cautious.
But what are the chances that you’ve actually had to light a road flare? Most of us probably haven’t had that experience, even though they are such a useful tool for exactly these types of situations.
So how do you do it? Is it difficult? Do you need a lighter or match? The answer to the last question is no, and lighting a flare is pretty easy. But if you haven’t done it before, it can seem a bit intimidating.
Let’s go through the steps of how to light a flare below, so that the next time you’re in a similar situation, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to take the steps to help keep you protected.
First, look around the area by your vehicle and decide where you want to place the flare. This way, you’re not holding a lit flare and then choosing where to set it. Pick a location that’s away from your vehicle, as well as any potentially flammable materials like dried brush. Also, look for a paved, level surface if possible to keep the flare from rolling away. If only using one flare, make sure to place it behind your vehicle so that other motorists coming up on you will see it.
The flare will have a cap on one end of it. Pick up the flare by the opposite end as the one with the cap on it, and then remove the cap. Doing so exposes the ignition compound.
Removing the cap is sometimes difficult, so you may need to gently twist it to help remove it. Be careful so as not to damage the ignition compound.
Hold the body of the flare at its base or middle section, as far away from you as possible. Check the wind conditions and stand so that the wind doesn’t blow smoke back into your face.
The flare cap will have a coarse striking surface. Strike that surface across the flare’s ignition compound, in much the same manner as you light a match. The flare should light, but be aware that it will likely drip some molten material, so again, you want to hold it as far away from you as possible so that material doesn’t get on you.
Point the flare downward and place it in your predetermined location. Set it down as gently as possible. Do not throw or toss it, as doing so may damage the flare, rendering it ineffective, or it may roll away from the spot you want it in.
How to Extinguish a Flare
Road flares generally burn anywhere from a half hour to an hour. Road flares are designed to safely self-consume so that there are no remnants left of them, so there’s no need to extinguish the flare.
However, if for some reason you do decide to extinguish the flare before it self-consumes, do not do so by stepping on it, as smothering the flare is usually ineffective. Instead, either dowse it with water if available, or carefully tap the burning end against the ground which will break it off from the rest of the flare and extinguish it.
It’s impossible to know when you’ll get a flat tire, or when another roadside emergency might occur. Make sure you’re prepared with a properly stocked emergency kit which will help ease the panic you feel when a potentially hazardous situation arises. To ensure you always have road flares in your vehicle, visit CHIEF, where we have a large selection of road flares so that you can keep you and your family safe when the time comes.