Rescue Flares VDS
Coast Guard regulations say that Visual Distress signals (VDS) are required if you are on the water at night or if you operate more than 2 miles offshore. Coast Guards go by SOLAS (save our lives at sea) regulations and for Visual Distress Signals they comprise of; Parachute flares, hand held flares, smoke signals, electronic distress light, and distress flags.
The Odeo Flare is a modern day answer to the pyrotechnics VDS which we use as part of our SOLAS package. The ODEO flare; Omni-directional-electro-optical; enables you to signal without the dangers inherent in magnesium or wax flares, which can burn and blind, but with the benefit of bright red lights that have ample range and duration.
The ODEO Flare MK1
Original review 2011
The ODEO flare MK1 is a high intensity revolving LED that give off a super-bright red light. The ODEO Flare could easily replace traditional rescue flares with its four lasers and a revolving prism. Powered by a couple of lithium ion batteries but will also run on normal AA cells. The Odeo light will run continuously for 10 hours, (with second set of batteries) while a normal red flare burns for 20-30 seconds.
The Odeo Flare MK11
The new version of the Odeo flare looks a bit different, but not much has changed. We now have Five independently driven laser diodes, and a grippier handle. Apparently grippier isn't a real word but I think it describes the new handle having better grip than the old version.
The Odeo Flare™
The Odeo Flare™ has recently won SAIL Magazines 2013 Pittman Innovation Award for Safety Gear.
The Odeo 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 lasers.
Traditional flares will burn for around 30 seconds before extinguishing: the Odeo Flare™ 'burns' for around 5 hours at full illumination. Because no pyrotechnics are used, the Odeo Flare™ is totally safe when switched off, and because it uses battery power (high power lithium iron-disulphide cells), it can even be safely posted or carried in baggage on flights.
Whilst originally designed for marine use, its lightweight, safe performance means that it is incredibly useful for any outdoor activity. Mountaineering, skiing, expeditions... now any activity can benefit from the added safety and security of carrying a distress flare - without the unwanted dangers.
The Odeo Flare™ is designed with consideration to SOLAS requirements, making it a genuine alternative to the pyrotechnic red hand held flare. Type Approval is being sought to make it a legal alternative for coded and commercial vessels.
Yachting Monthly video review
Yachting Monthly Video
Conclusion from Video
Range; From the video you can see the Odeo flare is recognizable at just over 3 miles and at just over 2 miles the red light is quite visible. The closer you get the more defined the light becomes.
Safety; You can see the inherent danger in the magnesium flare, you cannot look at it and you certainly cannot touch it.
Time; The flare lasts just 30 seconds, Odeo 5 hours.
Brightness; Compared to pyro the ODEO is not so bright in the first few seconds but after that the pyro tapers off and the Odeo flare keeps on going.
I am just reading a book called "Unbroken" about Louis Zamperini the Runner and WW11 Pilot who was shot down in the Pacific and spent 46 days in a liferaft. These days with the right satellite communications device or EPIRB, coupled with a VHF radio and VDS equipment you should be found quite quickly.
The Odeo flare is different from a normal laser in the use of 5 small lasers mounted in a rotating head that spins at variable speeds to mimic the flicker of a hot flame. Most lasers just have a single straight beam and are used as pointers.
- Powered by 3 x L91 lithium iron-disulphide cells
- Rated range of 3 miles,
- “lit” for at least 5 hours,
- Coverage, everything above horizontal plus 20 degrees below horizontal
Odeo flare will not burn you
Odeo flare will not blind you
Range 3 miles plus
You still need to carry SOLAS flares
Battery supply required
Range is only 3 miles, same as other VDS but less than a laser pointer.
Cost Guard regulations (SOLAS) say we need to carry VDS for night use and over 2 miles offshore. The Odeo flare is not approved at this time. Sometime in the future we will be able to carry devices like the Odeo flare which is categorized as a EVDS (electronic visual distress signal).
For lasers the regulations are covered by class. The Odeo is a Class 3R laser and conforms to EN 60825-1 regulations; are not dangerous to the user, rescuer, helicopter pilot or SAR equipment.
Apart from Traditional SOLAS flares like magnesium flares and Wax flares, (like you see on the road for broken down cars), there are other laser devices.
The Great land laser is a laser pointing device. The Great Land Laser has incredible range and can reach a helicopter 6,000 feet away. A crew in a liferaft can wave the beam and so attract a Helicopter in the dark. Do not shine the laser directly into the pilots eyes as you can go to jail.
My personal take on traditional rescue flares either handheld or parachute flares is that they have several shortcomings. They only last a short time approximately 30 seconds, they can be dangerous (how many times has someone used a flare as a weapon in the movies), they have a limited shelf life, they could get wet and they only have one use. This means regularly checking expiration dates and renewing.
Bottom line is that when you need them they may not be that useful.
Odeo Flares FAQ :
Is the Laser dangerous if looked at?
If it gets damaged how do I dispose of it?
If I buy one as a present, can it be posted?
Can I take it on an aircraft?
Will others know it as a distress flare?
If I drop it overboard will it float?
Will it run on any AA batteries?
Can I leave it on board over winter?
Is the Odeo Flare accepted under SOLAS regulations as an alternative to the hand held flare?
Does it have an expiry date?
What does Odeo mean?