How Long Do Road Flares Last? An Exciting Guide

Road flares are crucial safety tools, but often overlooked until faced with a roadside breakdown or emergency.

A significant question lingers, “How long do road flares last?”

This article aims to delve deep into the subject, considering factors like shelf life, burn time, and the conditions affecting them.

How long do road flares last
road flares

Essential information for your emergency kit management, catered towards ensuring a safer journey every time you hit the road.

How long do road flares last? 

Road flares, also known as highway flares, are typically manufactured to last for varying durations, ranging from 5 minutes to 60 minutes when ignited, depending on the specific product and type.

Most common ones used for standard roadside emergencies have a burn time of about 15 to 30 minutes.

However, the unignited shelf life of road flares is quite different. If stored properly in cool, dry conditions, they can retain their effectiveness for around 10 years or even up to 42 months beyond their expiration date marked by the manufacturer.

Remember, the lifespan of each flare can be influenced by several factors like the quality of manufacturing, storage conditions, and the precise chemical composition of the flare.

Therefore, always check your flares periodically and replace as necessary to ensure they’re ready to function if the need arises.

How long do road flares last in storage?

Road flares are designed to withstand long periods of unignited storage, generally around 10 years or more, when kept under suitable conditions.

Factors influencing storage life include the storage environment and the quality of the flare manufacture. They should be stored in a dry, cool space, away from direct sunlight or heat sources, and not exposed to harsh weather conditions.

How long do road flares last in storage

Even after their printed expiration date, which indicates the period within which the manufacturer can guarantee full flare effectiveness, road flares can remain functional.

Tests conducted on expired flares have found many still ignite and perform as expected for a period of up to 42 months beyond their expiration date.

Despite this, consistent replacement according to the manufacturer’s guidelines is highly recommended for safety measures. Regularly inspect your flares for any signs of damage or wear, such as cracks or dampness, which can impact their performance.

Do Road Flares Go Bad?

Indeed, road flares can go bad over time. The chemical process that ignites flares can degrade, particularly if the flares have been stored improperly – for instance, in an area with fluctuating temperature or humidity levels.

Damages such as cracks or dampness can affect the physical integrity of the flare, potentially making it unsafe or impossible to ignite.

Even though the flares don’t necessarily ‘expire’ in the conventional sense, their reliability can decrease with age and improper storage. It’s prudent to replace road flares based on the manufacturer’s guidelines, usually every 10 years.

What Happens If a Flare is Expired?

When a road flare is past its expiration date, it does not mean that it will fail to work entirely, but there could be problems with reliability. The flare may take longer to ignite, not burn as brightly, or not burn for as long as usual. In some cases, an expired flare may not light at all.

What Happens If a Flare is Expired

If you have expired flares, it’s best to replace them for safety reasons, since in emergency situations, reliable equipment is vital. However, expired flares shouldn’t be just thrown in the trash as they’re considered hazardous waste. Check with local waste facilities or fire departments; they often accept expired flares for safe disposal.

Are Expired Flares Dangerous?

Yes, expired flares can be dangerous. Regardless of whether they are past their expiration date, flares can still be incendiary devices. Over time, the chemicals in the flares may become unstable, which could make them more prone to issues and accidental ignition. It is crucial to treat expired flares with care to avoid accidents and injury.

Can Road Flares Explode?

Road flares are generally not prone to exploding. Even when grouped together, they are unlikely to cause a mass explosion. However, it is crucial to store them away from flames or heat sources to minimize the risk of any mishandling or accidents.


The lifespan of road flares, both ignited and unignited, is a crucial aspect every motorist should consider when preparing for potential roadside emergencies.

Though flares can last a significant length of time—up to an hour when burning and approximately a decade in storage—proper care, usage, and regular inspection are paramount.

Even though expired flares can still function, replacing them by the manufacturer’s suggested date ensures optimum safety. Also, worth noting, expired flares must be disposed of responsibly as they are considered hazardous waste.

Understanding the details about road flares advances our prompt and safe response during emergencies.

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