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PowerFlare's Environment-Friendly Roadside Flares

By Paul Geary, ENN

In an emergency, the immediate situation and safety are the primary concern of those involved. Environmental concerns are secondary. But one product commonly used by law enforcement, and by truckers and motorists in emergencies -- flares -- are not the most environmentally friendly of devices. The burn from a flare is toxic, and flares leave chemical residue on the ground where they're placed. Also, the fumes emitted from common flares pose a health hazard to those near them, and the flame from flares is susceptible to cause fires.

So it should come as no surprise that an alternative to the common flare was invented by a police officer. PowerFlare Corporation's PowerFlare Electronic Beacon was invented by an officer from a municipal police department in Silicon Valley with the objective of eliminating the danger, difficulty in use, and needless cost of old-fashioned road flares. PowerFlare products are safe and clean-burning; many models are rechargable.

PowerFlare units are about the size of a hockey puck. The devices use LED light technology to emit light in all directions. The units are particularly useful in traffic situations where the risk of the unit being run over by a passing vehicle is prevalent: The PowerFlare can withstand being run over by a truck. The Maui, Hawaii Police Department purchased PowerFlare. Lt. Jeffrey Tanoue of the Maui Police Department commented:

"There are many reasons why the Maui Police Department decided to replace their current use of incendiary flares with a new electronic LED warning flare device, called PowerFlare. The incendiary flares, which had been utilized by MPD since its inception many years ago, were the only warning device available. Flares are used primarily at road closures to warn motorists of hazard conditions that may exist due to automobile crashes, fallen trees or utility poles, or any emergency incident that requires an early warning system."

Lt. Tanoue noted that environmental issues were a particular concern:

"The incendiary flares, when ignited, produced a toxic cloud of smoke that posed a health hazard to the police officer and/or anyone close enough to inhale the smoke. It was not uncommon to see officers coughing and rubbing their eyes from the smoke emanating from the flares. Another problem encountered with the use of incendiary flares was the toxic chemical residue left on the ground which may indeed pose an environmental hazard to Maui’s precious natural surroundings. In addition, due to Hawaii’s warm climate and sunny conditions throughout the year, there is always the possibility of an incendiary flare igniting a fire to the usually dry vegetation. With the use of the PowerFlare units, there are no health or environmental concerns. There is no smoke to inhale, no residue to worry about, no fires to extinguish, and we are utilizing a device that provides better visibility, making it safer for the police officers and the public."

The privately-held company makes PowerFlare units that are designed for individual, commercial, and government fleet use. For more information, see the company's website at www.powerflare.com.

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