The following is a brief description on non-electronic communication devices and simple guidance of their use.
Understanding the usefulness of sound signalling will make you a better boater.
Use sound to attract attention. It is effective day and night and is especially useful for navigating low visibility such as fog.
Portable or fixed horns and whistles on lifejackets are good for making loud sounds. Most lifejackets have a whistle attached at purchase.
Note on fog: In most cases it is advisable to cease navigation and remain stationary or anchored in fog. Use a sound device to help other vessels be aware of your location.
Flares are a powerful means of communicating distress in an emergency.
There are three main types of flares:
- Orange smoke flares ‐ for daytime use only and very effective for highlighting your position to approaching aircraft and vessels
- Red handheld flares are effective during the day and night as they are very bright and burn for up to 60 seconds. These flares are visible from aircraft
- Red parachute or rocket flares can attract attention in daylight (up to 10 miles) and at night (up to 40 miles). A flare can attain a height of 300m and burn for 40–60 seconds as it descends slowly under a parachute.
Only use flares if it is an emergency and you think somebody will see it.
Always read the instructions and treat flares with the caution they deserve
Never use flares for entertainment purposes, especially near the land, as they can easily ignite fires.