Protect Your Lake This Fourth of July: Use LED Flares

Road flares are a piece of safety equipment many people carry in their vehicle in case it breaks down. They are also often used in Ring of Fire celebrations by lakefront owners when they light flares to create a glowing ring around the lake. The traditional road flares are chemical, or incendiary (burning) flares. These are considered “flammable solids,” as they release dangerous potassium perchlorate and strontium nitrate when burned. These hazardous chemicals can cause adverse health effects, such as injury to eyes, skin, and respiratory system. Furthermore, the blinding light and smoke produced from these toxic flares create additional safety issues. These traditional flares are hot enough to melt tires, skin, and clothing.

The Finger Lakes are sensitive drinking water sources and essential economic drivers that are currently threatened by pollutants that drive the increasing frequency of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) among other water quality concerns. The size and duration of the use of traditional flares suggests a minimal impact to water quality, but when used in large numbers during Ring of Fire celebrations, at rates greater than common use scenarios, residual ash has a high possibility of contaminating nearby soil and water. It is in the community’s best interest to transition from the use of road flares to the use of LED flares to protect themselves and their drinking water sources while participating in Ring of Fire events. LED flares are non-combustible, low-cost, waterproof, reusable, and do not contain hazardous materials that can burn the skin, eyes, and lungs. LED flares can be carried in your vehicle instead of traditional road flares. Furthermore, the lack of hazardous materials produced by LED flares lends not only to ambient safety, but also to reducing the contamination of the water and soil of the Finger Lakes. This alternative will allow for traditions such as the Ring of Fire to continue, while protecting water quality and the safety of participants.