Road flares provide a solution to when you need to warn the upcoming traffic if something has happened with your vehicle or on the road ahead. There are different types of flares – pyrotechnic flares that are filled with a bright chemical mixture and LED flares that need batteries, for example. Learn about the types and remember that it is very important that you have road flares if you drive.

People tend to ignore the necessity of purchasing road flares and close their eyes to their importance. It’s understandable as mass media and various advertisements focus our prepping efforts on water and food and assure us that road safety isn’t that important.

Of course, it’s not true. Road flares are the essential component of safety on the roads. And we dedicate the article to this wrongly ignored theme.

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Most people have an understanding of what road flares are. For those in the minority, we’ll give a quick tour of these safety products’ definitions.

Road flares are the safety products made to notify people on the road about the road’s vehicle breakdown. These safety flares can be a real salvation in an emergency when you need to show other drivers something’s wrong with your car. Their safety lights act as signalization of an accident scene on the roadside.

The USA law doesn’t require one to keep these road flares in the car, but we genuinely believe everyone has to keep ones in the trunk. Highway flares can prevent many car accidents, slow traffic, and protect cars driving by and the driver of the broken vehicle.

If you don’t trust us, watch the following videos. They will explain everything without further ADO.

People could avoid the situations on the videos if only they had highway flares in the trunk of the car so they could utilize them in an emergency or when they decide to stop on the roadside in the middle of the night. A bright set of emergency flares could protect innocent people and provide a safety zone for those who decide to turn off the car engine.

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How Road Flares Work

Purchasing led road flares is not such a big deal as you can find them in every survival shop (online or offline). Problems occur when people try to utilize them and understand how to do this the best way. There are special guidelines you need to follow to do it correctly and safely for yourself and the ones surrounding you.

How Weather Conditions Affect Flares

Weather conditions play a significant role in the way road safety flares work. Wet snow and just snowy weather can make it hard to notice LED flares and other types of emergency flares. Snow tends to accumulate on the safety flares makes it impossible for the lights of the flares to be noticed by people.

Make sure to check road flares from time to time and clean them if there’s mud covering them and hiding their light. It’s essential to keep emergency flares clean as people’s lives depend on the cleanness.

How Many Flares Do You Need

Usually, there are three-four emergency flares in the complete set that you can purchase in the shop for survivalists and drivers. It’s enough to utilize in most emergencies.

When it comes to the LED flares, make sure you have some extra aaa batteries that you can use if old aaa batteries will be discharged.

Thinking of purchasing pyrotechnic fusee flares? Stock them as they have a limited period of burning (a pack of ten would be enough). Please keep them in your storage bag to have 24/7 accessibility to them in case you need them.

How To Make People Notice Road Flares

The higher you put your road flares, the more noticeable they are for surrounding people. For this purpose, you can place roadside flares on traffic cones or other roadway elements.

Some LED flares have magnetic bases and hanging hooks coming in the complete set, so you can hang these flares on the hooks to provide a better vision of their warning light to other participants of the road traffic.

How To Place Road Flares

It depends on your location on the road and the road type.

If you are stuck in the middle of the one-way road, then passing vehicles coming from behind your vehicle. It means you need to set flares behind the vehicle, so everyone sees your signaling devices in advance.

If you stop on the two-way road, make sure you set at least one road flare behind and in front of the car. So drivers from both sides of the traffic see your vehicle.

How Big The Space Between Flares Should Be

There are two possible options of placing the road flares, and each of the options depends on the situation you’ve found yourself in. Check the short guidelines we prepared for you for both of these situations:

  1. Being stuck on the two-way road where cars move at 25 mph, you need to set flares 100 ft from your vehicle on each side of your vehicle.
  2. When you stand on a limited-access divided highway where vehicles move at 70 mph, try to set a road flare as far from your vehicle as possible. This way, you remain in the safety zone, and passing cars have the opportunity to see the upcoming danger in advance. The first flare must be 200-300 ft from your vehicle, and the second flare should be 100 ft closer. If you have more flares, place them right near the vehicle, so all participants of the road traffic have their safety zone.

In any situation, try to allow passing vehicles to notice your highway LED flares in advance, Use traffic cones and other roadway elements for this purpose. You’ll never know what might assist you in the situations like this.

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Road Flares

Types and Main Characteristics of Road Flares

For starters, before moving on to the best road flares on the market, we need to check what types of road flares are made in the survival industry.

SnapLight Flares

The simplest and the safest flares of high quality you can imagine. It’s the type of flares parents put on their children’s costumes on Halloween day in the USA. You can say the whole Halloween industry in the world uses these flares for their enrichment.

To utilize these flares, double-tap on them, and they will brighten up with neon-bright light. Sometimes the simplest items are the best ones.

Pyrotechnic Flares

Another name for these flares is “fusee” flares.

Unlike the LED flares, their burning activity doesn’t last for a long time. The working maximum of the product is one hour. After that, you need to use a new one. You can also utilize these safety items as firestarters as they produce heat while burning.

Visually they look like safety products in the form of a cylinder and with the substance of a chemical mixture. They are covered with such water-resistant materials as wax. Still, it doesn’t stop the moisture from harming their efficiency over time, so make sure you check their quality from time to time as the unsuitable or defective flare can be a real danger for you and the ones you love (as safety professionals claim).

LED Electric Flares

Perhaps, this is the less energy-consuming safety product you can ever purchase. These LED electric flares are of excellent quality and can work several days using just one set of batteries. It means they provide you a light source when you have no access to a flashlight and extra batteries.

More and more customers prefer this type of flare due to their efficiency, endurance, different lighting modes, and low price for the product. These flares are also water-resistant and look like hockey pucks.

Don’t forget to check customer reviews on the safety items before purchasing them.

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This is about the main types of highway flares. Now, let’s examine the main characteristics perfect light source flares must obtain.

Robust Flares Design

Mind that your flare must be made of sturdy material so it can challenge even the worst weather conditions. It must be able to withdraw even in the situation when a police car (or any other vehicle) accidentally runs over it. There’s not that type of safety items you can spare your money on. Sometimes it can worth the life of one.

Safety professionals recommend bearing in mind the following items if you have pyrotechnic flares in your vehicle kit:

Inbuilt Striker

You need to have matches or lighters to light most of the flares. Unfortunately, you don’t always have these light source products on hand. That’s why it would be a perfect issue solution if you had an inbuilt hitter in a kit with your flare. It would mean you’ll be able to utilize the safety product anytime you like and especially when at an accident scene.

Water-Resistant Storing Box

Pyrotechnic flares are vulnerable to moisture, so it’s essential to keep these safety products in some dry places. Of course, you can purchase Ziploc plastic bags in IKEA and store your flares there, but let’s be honest: these plastic bags can’t guarantee 100% dry space as you can accidentally tear them.

Water-resistant storing boxes are the safest products that are something you can rely on in such severe questions. Store your pyrotechnic flares in there, and be sure nothing’s going to happen to them.

Harmful Design

Try to find a pyrotechnic product of material not containing any toxic chemicals. It might be a challenge, but when it comes to your health, what can else matter?

That was all about the pyrotechnic flares, and when it comes to LED flares, check the availability of the following safety items.

Magnetic Base

This safety item allows you to place flares on all steel objects, starting with vehicles and ending with guideposts.

Water Resistant Flares

We usually need safety products in emergencies, right? It means the weather might be as bad as it can be, and if LED (or other) flares don’t have decent protection from external circumstances, we risk staying with nothing when we expect it the least.

It’s better to store all your safety products in a water-resistant box where no moisture can harm them.

Hanging Hook

This item serves the same way as a magnetic base, but sometimes we all need to have various options, right?

Utilize this product to hang your LED flare from the branches or other tall objects.

Various Flash Modes

Flares have at least two strobe modes: the one signaling the one needs urgent assistance (an SOS mode) and the flash mode notifying passing drivers a potential danger is in the distance.

We believe it’s essential to purchase safety items with various features that might be useful in emergencies. As we already said, you never know what product becomes vital for you.

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Best Flares On The Market

Now, when we know what a real safety product must look like, we can check the road flares consumers recognize as the best ones on the modern market.

Cyalume Industrial Grade SnapLight Flares with Wire Stand

Cyalume Industrial

If you have a fear of utilizing pyrotechnic flares, you might like the flare alternative in the form of the Cyalume SnapLight flare chemical light stick.

This product is a perfect flare alternative as it’s safer due to its non-flammable chemistry. These safety products are resistant and water-resistant that gives them the advantage over all other flares.

The product kit includes chemical light sticks that can be burning for 30 minutes and provide bright orange light during this process. No weather or any other circumstances can stop the burning process once you light these sticks.

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Emergency Highway Flare Discs

Emergency Roadside Flare Discs Perhaps, this safety item is of the most durable material as it’s the same material they use in the USA army. No other flare can match the quality of these Emergency Roadside Flare Discs.

These traffic flares differ significantly from a tactical flashlight as they have a different working principle: these Roadside Discs mirror light back and producing powerful rays without anyone’s assistance. These rays’ power is so significant you can see these discs being 5,000 feet away from the traffic and the accident scene.

We honestly see no reasons why wouldn’t you purchase these LED flare discs if you want to feel safe on any side of the roadside surrounded by other vehicles.

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Garage Monkey Engineering LED Safety Flare Roadside Warning Safety Flare Kit

Led Road Safety FlareThe Garage Monkey Kit’s main differences, among other flares, are the availability of the fourth flare (that makes their light brighter) and nine-light modes (that allows you to decide what color to choose while signaling for assistance or SOS).

You can order a delivery of these flares from the online store (and batteries for them, as well), and if you don’t like the quality, the store will return money to you.

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Reliancer 5PCS 18”Collapsible Traffic Cones with Nighttime LED Lights

Collapsible Traffic Cones

These Reliancer Collapsible Road Cones with LED strobes can be the option for you if you have an extra place for these safety products in your truck.

While in the daylight, you don’t need to use Light Emitting Diode flares as the bright orange color and the big size of 18”tall make it impossible for passing drivers not to notice these roadside cones.

When it comes to night, turning the Light Emitting Diode flares on will light up these cones and allow other drivers (and even a police car) stuck in the traffic jam to notice your breakdown and offer help (if they want to).

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Hokena Roadside Warning Care Safety Flare Kit

Hokena Led Road Flares

Purchasing Hokena, you get a pack of five bright LED flares with batteries and a storage box of water-resistant sturdy material. In the kit, you can also find a tool for cutting the seatbelt, a tool for an emergency glass breaking, and a tool for changing batteries.

These LED flares are bright enough to pass drivers notice them in advance. Though they have a sturdy magnet base, ensure you attach them firmly as they can be easily moved at the slightest movement.

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StonePoint Emergency Flare Kit

Stonepoint Emergency LedThis StonePoint Emergency Flare Kit includes three Light Emitting Diode Emergency Beacons, a storage box to store these emergency beacons, batteries for them, and other survival stuff of these LED road flares in there.

The light they’re producing is so bright it can be noticeable up to two miles away from the accident scene. They can be working up to 20 hours when these lights are on steady mode and up to 60 hours when these lights in flash mode. Sounds incredible!

What’s more incredible is these road lights are made of such a material that even the 6,000-pound vehicle won’t be able to break it.

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Emergency Roadside Smart Flares Kit

Roadside Flares Kit The light of these Emergency Roadside Smart Flares is so bright even drivers a mile away from the accident can easily notice them. It doesn’t matter if you utilize these super-bright red LEDs in the daylight or the night, as their visibility won’t suffer from the light quality.

There are three various flash modes, including Solid/Flashlight/Strobe (SOS). Only 12 aaa batteries can suit this type of survival item. You can store all of these survival products in a sturdy storage box and be sure no external circumstances will ruin their quality.

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Final Thoughts

All highway flares have their benefits (as well as disadvantages), but Light Emitting Diode flares are the ones we’d like you to focus your attention on the most. They are easy to set up and leave almost no risk while using them. What can’t be said about pyrotechnic flares with their toxic smoke and fire risk? The only situation they can be more beneficial than other flares is you store them in a winter emergency kit. Because this way you can use them instead of fire starters.

In all other cases, it’s not worth utilizing them as the risk of their utilization can’t be more important than your health. Though it’s up to you to choose the safety product, we highly recommend you to stop your choice on Light Emitting Diode flares.

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Can you hold a road flare?

Yes, you can, if only it’s not a pyrotechnic flare. Though you still can hold it in your hands, it might be dangerous. That’s why it’s better not to risk it. When it comes to LED or SnapLight flares, you can be sure nothing’s going to harm you when you hold them in your hands.

Are road flares dangerous?

We can’t say they are more dangerous than other survival products. All of them are something you need to be careful with. Especially when it comes to pyrotechnic flares with their toxic smoke and fire risk, ensure you observe safety precautions and no kids are around you while you’re placing the road flares.

How long does a road flare last?

It depends on the road flare model you’re possessing. The last models presented on the market can work for up to several days. For example, StonePoint Emergency Flare Kit can work up to 60 hours. And if we’re talking about pyrotechnic flares, they work for a short period while they’re burning. So if you think of purchasing ones, ensure to pack a few of them.

What’s in a road flare?

Again, it depends on the road flare model you have in your storage box. The Theotechnic flares with potassium nitrate and a fuel such as sulfur, magnesium, or charcoal. If we’re talking about the Light Emitting Diode flares, the filling of ones includes semiconductor materials made of the periodic table elements.


A former USA Army sergeant and a highly educated survivalist and prepper with a degree and interest in Engineering and Electronics, Mike Millerson applies his extensive expertise in survivalism, homesteading, backpacking, hiking and hunting, spreading his deep knowledge about handling emergencies and prepping for them reasonably and effectively.




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