Flares are a brilliant way of signalling for help in remote areas where there is no mobile phone reception – all mountain rescue teams carry them.
Unlike the Odeo Mk3 LED Flare, conventional flares have one major flaw: they contain explosives, albeit in small amounts, plus highly flammable materials to burn. So when you fire one off in an emergency you need to be very careful not to burn yourself and how you dispose of the smouldering very hot spent flare. Added to this, they only burn for seconds, less than a minute, so you have to hope that somebody in the vicinity is looking your way the minute you call for help. You can’t take them anywhere on an aircraft, so flying abroad with them is out of the question, in fact even carrying them in a public place such as a sports ground, shopping centre or pub without good cause is illegal in the UK. Then added to this when there shelf life expirers the have to be safely disposed of by recognised professional authority (In the UK the MCA)
So when I was asked to test a new British invention, that used AA batteries, instead of explosives and signalled for hours instead of seconds, I was really excited.
The Odeo Mk3 LED Flare is the new alternative to the traditional red pyrotechnic hand-held distress flare. It is similar in size to traditional flares, but instead of using dangerous explosives to burn, it uses battery powered light-emitting diode, that is safe to the human eye.
The test results were impressive
- A massive viewing distance, being visible from a minimum of 5km away (3 nautical miles)
- They signal for help for 6 hours continuously – equivalent to over 500 conventional flares!
- They are visible from all directions simultaneously
- They can be easily mounted to a walking pole and left to signal for help whilst you tend to other people or look after yourself
- They are waterproof and rugged for use in the mountains
- You can carry them anywhere, including on aircraft
Weighing in at just over 300 grams and 265x50mm they are easy to carry in your rucksack.
Mountain Rescue Teams use them to guide other hill parties into the locus and air assets called to assist by simply mounting them on a ski pole and leaving the flare to do the rest.
After used, simply replace the batteries and you are good to go again.
As part of an emergency kit for the hill we now consider them must haves.
- Coverage: Full upper hemisphere plus 20 degrees below horizontal
- Power Supply: 3 x L91 lithium iron-disulphide cells
- Endurance: 6 hours at full illumination, thereafter at reduced power
- Near indefinite life, if the batteries are replaced with the correct type and the flare is stored carefully
- Light Source: 21 independently driven diodes = More power, visibility and redundancy
- Pulse Duration: Programmed flicker with a break to transmit the SOS signal
- Waterproof: IPX8 and they float
Length: 265 mm
Width: 50 mm
Weight: 330 gm