Distress Flare Disposal Update

July 9, 2024

Caption: A typical safety kit plastic bag with distress flares.

Regular readers of Boating Industry Canada News Week Digest know that we are concerned about the loss of options for boaters to dispose of their expired Distress Flares.

Since those stories ran, we have received a few emails from companies who accept expired flares. For example, Steveston’s in BC has a spring flare return program. The Rigging Shoppe in Scarborough also had a collection day. Fogh Boat Supplies at #1 Port Street East in Port Credit are holding flare collection days on Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27 at their store. Customers can bring in up to 24 marine flares of any brand on those two days. It has to be an in-person drop off and no bulk drop-offs.

We also added an invitation to marine retailers who offer a flare collection and disposal program. If your company does this and would like us to list that event to our Canadian Boating magazine and Onboard Digest readers, to please send your name, address, website and collection dates to me: aadams@kerrwil.com . (BTW – That offer still stands).

We also heard from Katelyn Baker at DSS Protection. They are distributors with four locations across Canada and have been running a flare disposal program for the past 20 years. They do a “1 for 1” program: when a person purchases a Comet or Pains Wessex handflare, parachute rocket, smoke signal, twin star rocket, or 12GA cartridge from DSS Protection, they can drop off an expired equivalent of any brand at no charge.
Additionally, for those who do not purchase a replacement, DSS Protection accepts expired pyrotechnics for a fee to ensure their proper and safe disposal. More to the point of our story, flares can also be purchased and returned through DSS Protection’s dealer network across Canada.

But for marinas, yacht clubs and other organizations who would like to do their own flare collection, be aware that there are few ways of shipping them and the costs are often significant. We went to get some prices to share with you, starting at Canada Post. Here is the list of dangerous goods that the post office will not accept for delivery:

  • ammunition and cartridges
  • black powder and blasting caps
  • detonators
  • dynamite
  • explosive fuses and ignitors
  • fireworks
  • flash powder
  • grenades
  • rocket motors
  • signal flares
  • toy and starting pistol caps

Therefore, boaters are not able to ship expired flares back to the manufacturer via Canada Post. So from there, we went to the Purolator agent that we deal with and they referred us on to FedEx.

We learned that Fed Ex will ship a box the size of 10x5x2 and a weight of 1lb. The cost was $118.78. We were told to select 500kg exception, it requires a hazard label and we were told to state on the package UN0403 and packing P135. The agent was kind enough to guide us there.  There was no cheaper option.

Clearly, shipping expired distress flares is not easy or cheap. More information is expected in the coming weeks and we will continue to share that with our readers.

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