Pyrotechnic flares were once the only rescue flares approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Not anymore. Recognizing the inherent risk of burning flares, particularly on small, crowded inflatable rafts, and noting the short burn time, the Coast Guard wisely adopted standards for approved electronic flares. Some have shelf lives of decades, not months, and provide an important cost savings and an extra margin of safety over burning flares. But so far, only one LED flare meets Coast Guard standards for rescue equipment.
The Coasties require these flares to be visible for 7 miles. We wanted to see how they compared to each other and set up a special test by setting reflective targets at intervals on a 210-yard golf fairway and noting the distance at which we saw the rescue lights’ illumination reflected in the targets. These were our top contenders.