Are you the type of person that prides themselves as always being prepared for any situation? You know the type, they pack 5 pairs of socks and underwear for an overnight trip. They carry a first aid kit in their car, stow extra house keys at work, etc. Well, if you fall into this category, then I think you will be very interested in the FlareSafe flashlight from FlareBrands Limited. What’s that? You say you already carry a flashlight with you? Ok, I knew that… But does your flashlight double as a smoke detector and a distress alarm? I didn’t think so!
The FlareSafe was invented by two guys in the UK after the Childers hostel fire in Australia in 2000 claimed the lives of 15 young people. They knew they could come up with a product that would help protect travelers.
The FlareSafe is an LED flashlight, an SOS / distress signal / SOS strobe light and an optical smoke detector all housed in one compact device. It is powered by 2 AA alkaline batteries and 1 CR123A Lithium back up battery. All three batteries are included when you purchase the FlareSafe, so you’re ready to use it as soon as you take it out of the packaging.
This device is made from military-grade plastics and as such, it feels rugged and sturdy.
One end of the light houses the 4 LED torch. To activate the torch, you just twist the plastic ring around base of the light. The light has 3 settings: full on, low bright and strobe. Using the flashlight on full bright mode, it will last for approximately 10hrs. Low bright will get you 50hrs and in strobe mode, it will last as long as 100hrs.
The end with the LEDs unscrews to reveal the battery chamber.
The opposite end houses the optical smoke detector. The round button looking thing is not a button at all. It’s actually speaker for the smoke and distress alarms.
To arm the smoke detector, you just twist the end and it will pop open to reveal the smoke chamber. A short beep will be sounded to let you know the detector is armed and ready. If 7 beeps are heard, you know the batteries are low and need to be replaced. To disarm the smoke detector, you just twist the cap back into place.
The two Orange buttons on the FlareSafe are used to set off the distress alarm. If you press both Orange buttons at the same time, a very loud (110dBA) siren will sound and the light will go into strobe mode. The only way to disarm the distress alarm is to open the battery end (LED) end of the light to disconnect the battery.
The 4 LED flashlight isn’t as bright as some flashlights that I have reviewed, but it is adequate and perfectly useful.
Here is a picture of my office with no lights on, at night, with the door closed. You can only make out the glowing LEDs from some of my electronics. I’m standing in the corner of the room focusing on the opposite corner approximately 16 feet away.
Now let’s power on the FlareSafe and see and see how well it illuminates a room…
A person would have no problem using this light to find their way down a dark hallway or other dim area.
Of course, the most interesting feature of the FlareSafe is the optical smoke alarm. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a travel sized smoke detector before, so I was anxious to give it a try. For my first test, I tore up some paper, placed it on a ceramic plate and used some matches to try to set the paper on fire. I pretty much only succeeded in making my kitchen smell like burnt paper. I wasn’t able to set off the alarm. I contacted the folks at FlareBrands and asked just how much smoke was needed for the alarm to sound. I was told that the software in the FlareSafe checks every 5 seconds for an increase in smoke concentrations that may be present in the smoke chamber. If there are three consecutive increases in this 15 second period, then it reasons that there is a fire, and it will alarm (it is designed like this to avoid false alarms). He suggested that I try cigarette smoke as a test. But since I don’t smoke and don’t plan to take it up just for this review, I come up with another idea.
See it in action…
No, I wasn’t actually holding the FlareSafe in the flames, it just looks like I was. I was holding it in the path of the rising smoke ;o) Oh by the way, when the smoke alarm is sounded, the flashlight automatically turns on. That’s a great feature incase it happens to go off in the middle of the night and you need to find your way to an exit.
The FlareSafe is a unique device that should be a welcome addition to any traveler’s gear bag. The only downside is that it doesn’t appear to be available here in the US yet. That means you’ll be paying around $40 for shipping, which brings the total price to approximately $125. I guess you can’t put a price on safety though…