Are LED Flares Dangerous? Flashing warning lights are an effective way to alert traffic to an oncoming emergency roadside area. LED lights have the advantage of being much brighter than traditional bulbs, and this means that they will be easier for drivers to see when traveling at night. So, how can they be dangerous? Find out below.
Best LED Flares
The best LED flares will have a hard durable case for extra security, and be able to handle punishment in emergency road conditions.
The best led flares will have multiple lighting modes for diverse situations. Led flares can be round (hockey puck shaped) or conical (stand upright).
The best LED flare brands include:
The best LED flares should also come with their own recharger for wall mounting or USB plugin.
How To Use A LED Road Flare
Using an LED road flare the right way is going to help keep you safe at night on the side of the road.
Place the LED flares away from people and the vehicle because the light is very bright and could cause irritation. The LED flare should be placed at least 15-20 feet from the emergency location.
They should be placed on flat open spaces that make them easy to spot from a long distance. This will give motorists a good lead time to switch lanes.
Before placing the LED flare, choose the right blinking mode for the roadside situation. The guide will say which blinking mode is best.
Turn the LED flare on by holding the power button for 30 seconds. You can also turn it off this way and it should save the blinking mode.
You can also turn the small flashlight on top included with the second button if needed to see where to place the flare in the dark.
Are LED Flares Safer Than Traditional Flares?
Whether or not LED flares are safer than traditional flares depends on a number of factors. There are safety advantages of LED flares comparable to regular road flares. These include:
- LED flares provide 360 degree illumination of the surrounding road area.
- LED flares can be seen from a considerable distance away.
- LED flares can be used day or night and in all weather conditions, such as fog, rain, or snow.
- LED flares do not produce a flame as normal road flares do, meaning less risk of causing a fire.
- LED flares do not need to be ignited by a cap; only press a button and they turn on.
- LED flares can be dropped or driven over without breaking.
- LED flares can be used in poor weather and can withstand being run over. Chemical flare sticks may also not be bright enough in bad conditions.
The United Staes Coast Guard (USCG) has performed tests to see how effective LED flares are as replacements for stick flares. It has found that it exceeds the performance of traditional flares in some circumstances.
Since LED flares do not produce a flame, they also vastly decrease the likelihood of starting a fire
Are LED Road Flares Legal?
LED road flares are legal, and have been used as replacements for indendiary flares by many goverment agencies for emergency situations.
LED road flares fall within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (MFCSA) code of federal regulations 49 CFR 392.25 and 49 CFR § 393.95 for flare safety on roadside emergences.
How Long Do LED Flares Last?
LED flares should last a very, very long time. As long as they are not damaged (run over, hit with a hammer, etc), they can last for 10,000 continous hours of operation before the light burns out.
However, most people will never use their LED flares this long. LED flares can run up to 150-200 hours on fully charged batteries.
LED flares will last longer during an accident than normal road flares because they do not burn out. It could take rescue and road services hours to reach the scene. By then, a normal road flare could be out of flame.
However, LED flares need AAA batteries that are fully charged. So, make sure to keep them charged or replace them if they run out. LED flare batteries can last up to 1 year “on the shelf” before they need to be recharged or replaced. Some LED road flares use rechargeable lithium ion batteries over regular alkaline batteries.
How Bright Are LED Road Flares?
LED road flares are bright enough to be visible up to 7 miles for some models. Most can be seen up to 2 miles regardless of which flashing pattern they are operating with (blinking, solid-on, etc.)
LED road flares will have many different flashing modes for emergencies, and 1 flashlight to work with.
The white LED light will be 150 lumens (total quantity of visible light), and the red LED light will be 50 lumens. LED road flares can cover 360 degrees of lighting range.
Are LED Flares Rechargeable?
Yes, LED road flares are rechargable, and replaceable. This depends on which battery versions are chosen. A fully charged LED road flare can last between 100-200 hours of continuous use.
LED road flare packs can include their own 12V chargers that plug into a USB port or wall charger.
Do LED Road Flares Work?
Yes, if they are functioning properly. LED road flares are almost entirely crush proof and water proof. LED road flares are very durable and can handle being dropped or driven over.
LED road flares come with many (9 or more) flashing functions for different situations. LED road flares work so well that fire fighters, police, and other road responder crews rely on them to light emergency situations.
How Many LED Road Flares Do You Need?
3 flares come with most LED flare packs, while some have 6 (in 2 packs of 3). So, 3 flares should be enough when placed in the right locations around a vehicle or emergency location. Having more will always be beneficial, especially if the emergency area is large, such as in an accident involving a semi truck or multicar pile up.
If you lose an LED flare, or one breaks or runs out of battery power, it is recommended to replace it or recharge it before taking a trip in your vehicle.
Do LED Road Flares Use Batteries?
Yes, LED road flares use both regular and rechargeable batteries, depending on the model. Most use 3 standard AAA batteries. Rechargeable led flares may come with their own wall or USB charger.
LED Flares Vs. Traditional Flares
Traditional pyrotechnic road flares produce a very bright and lasting light. They are also self contained and burn continuously on their own. Traditional flares can burn in many different weather conditions, such as fog, mist, and snow, and are very inexpensive.
However, traditional road flares come with a fire risk, especially when placed in emergency areas where vehicle fuel and dried brush are present. For road accidents in forest areas in the hot summertime, this is especially risky, as road flares burn very hot.
Traditional road flares can only be used once and must be discarded when burned out. They also emit toxic fumes which are bad for inhalation and the environment. When burned on a roadway, they leave behind a polluting white matter that can wash away into the environment.
Traditional road flares contain many toxic chemicals, including:
- Strontium nitrate
- Potassium nitrate
- Orpotassium perchlorate
- Other resins
Traditional road flares also have a shorter burning time (15-20 minutes) than LED road flares (150 hours).
However traditional road flares may perform better in snowy conditions, where LED road flares can be covered up by snow. This is very dangerous for first responders when snowstorm or blizzard conditions appear over an accident area.
It is best for first responders and general motorists to decide which type of road flare is best for the conditions they will be driving through. However, a mix of LED and traditional road flares may not be best because it can confuse and disorient other drivers.
LED Road Flares – Advantages Over Traditional Flares
LED road flares have some distinct advantages over traditional flares. These include:
- Easy to use.
- SOS code function in morse code (US coast guard).
- Multiple flashing patterns.
- Different lighting colors.
- Very bright
- Weather proof (snow, fog, heat, rain)
- Dirt proof
- Highly crush resistant
- Are not a fire hazard
- Do not leave toxic chemical residue.
- Long lasting illumination.
- Some have magnetic bases to attach to vehicles or metallic objects.
- 360 degree light output.
The Verdict – Are LED Road Flares Dangerous?
LED road flares are a very effective replacement for traditional road flares. They also are not dangerous when compared to road flares that ignite and burn, and release toxic chemicals.
This is why many emergency road services have switched to LED flares to help secure an emergency area. Regular motorists should make sure their LED flares have charged batteries and are working properly before heading out on a trip.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.