LIVES are at risk because about a fifth of boat skippers are not renewing emergency flares before the safety devices’ expiry dates, according to the Department of Transport.
“The oldest flare package we took off a boat recently was 10 years out of date,” department manager of safety education Laurie Adams said.
The risk of a flare miss-firing increases 10 per cent each year.
Regulations state they must be no more than six months old.
Mr Adams said many of the 17 per cent of skippers found to have out of date flares during 7400 compliance checks in the past 12 months believed they were “just in-date”.
The number of out of date flares found by the department increased five per cent from the checks done in the previous year.
Mr Adams said the rise was probably due to skippers’ complacency and many boats being used infrequently.
“It’s a concerning trend, because in-date flares are required safety equipment for boating in open water and skippers who fail to carry them are risking their lives,” he said.
WA law requires boats have two red and two orange flares within two nautical miles of shore and two orange and two parachute flares beyond the limit.
Further than 400m, kite surfers, windsurfers and kayakers should have at least two red or orange flares, or a personal locator beacon and wear a life jacket.
Mr Adams said the Easter period would be busy on the water, with many heading to sea for the end of the usual boating season and holidays, and grey nomads would be getting their boats ready for their annual treks north.
“We ask all skippers and boat owners to take the department’s 30-second challenge and check all the flares and other safety equipment are up to date, working and easily accessible, before they hit the water any times,” he said.
Gloves are recommended to be kept near flares for users’ protection.
Department officers will be offering advice and information at the Perth Caravan and Camping Show at the Claremont Showground from March 20-24.