If you are a boater, especially one who boats at the coast where tides and currents move water rapidly, you definitely need to add this piece of life-saving equipment to your ditch bag of safety gear.
What Is It?
This is an LED-based SOS Signal Device designed to provide up to signaling capabilities for up to 60 hours! If you were lost at sea you would want to do everything you could to be safely found by the US Coast Guard or other boaters in the area.
Not only does it signal for help for a very long time, but it also has an extensive range of visibility.
This SOS Distress Signal device is so powerful it can be seen for over 10 nautical miles!
The ability to be seen from a far distance at night could be critical for rescuers to locate you in the middle of the ocean.
How does it work?
This LED SOS signal runs on three C batteries and when turned on will flash an SOS distress signal to notify the coast guard and others of your need for help.
The device floats so if you were in the water, the signal can float along with you. It comes with a lanyard that you could use to secure the device to your hand or tie it off to your life jacket, etc.
What does it replace?
The SOS Distress Signal is a modern replacement for your required signal flares.
I have to tell you I hate trying to remember to buy new signal flares.
Last year, I grabbed a new bag of them to meet the Coast Guard requirements prior to Memorial Day boating activities, only to find that when I did my elective safety inspection with my local Coast Guard Auxillary group, that my flares were just about to expire!
Clearly those flares had been sitting on the store shelf for quite a while. I assume since last season and the inventory had not been changed out.
Sure I was able to exchange them at the store and this time I made sure to read the labels, but that was a massive pain.
With this LED distress signal, all I have to do is replace the batteries and it is good to go.
I already keep new batteries in my ditch bag, but I maintain a regular interval of replacing batteries in all of my devices.
One helpful tip is to use a sharpie to write the date on each battery when you replace it. This way, when you go to do your personal safety check, you will know exactly when the batteries were last updated.
I still carry a pack of flares on the boat as a backup, but this SOS Distress Signal is now my primary signal device.
It also comes with a whistle and a daytime distress flag, so that’s an added bonus.
How Often Do You Replace The Device?
Replacement is one of the best parts of this LED signal device, you see it does not have to be replaced like signal flares. It does not expire.
However, and this is important, you do have to replace the batteries! It takes three batteries, and like I mentioned above, I like to write the replacement date on all of my batteries with a sharpie (permanent marker).
This way I know exactly how long they have been installed and when they should be replaced.
As a general rule, I swap the batteries at least at the beginning of the season, and if I see any signs of wear I replace then during the boating season.
Before I go offshore, I do a boating safety check to take inventory of all devices, life jackets, etc.
This is where I make sure to fully charge my handheld VHF, charge the handheld LED spotlight, etc.
Is The LED Signal US Coast Guard Approved?
So, is the SOS Signal Device US Coast Guard Approved? YES! The Coast Guard has updated their guidelines to include LED signal devices to serve as a replacement to signal flares on a boat.
As a boater with kids, I feel much safer knowing the LED-based distress signal is not a risk to burn my kids if they were required to use it. Also, the fact it can signal for up to 60 hours is a potential game-changer when it comes to being rescued.
Have You Ever Seen A Tradition Pyro Signal Flare In Action?
Here is a quick video. Notice how they are wearing gloves when handling a handheld flare.
They also mention to hold it overboard since hot residue will drip on the boat. If you have a fiberglass boat, everything except the block of your engine is flammable! (something to consider).
As far as I am concerned, this LED device is a great advancement over the old school signal flares.
As I said, I actually have both on my boat and in my ditch-bag just to be safe, however, I think most people should consider having the LED SOS Signal Device on their boat!
Where To Buy:
I found mine on Amazon, but I am sure you can find them at other retailers like West Marine.