PowerFlare Safety Beacon Review

Chemical-based road flares are going by the wayside, yielding to LED lighting technology and the many options available with the PowerFlare line of safety beacons.

IMG_7062Emergency responders have good reason to move away from potassium perchlorate and other substances used in conventional pyrotechnic safety flares – not the least of which is the PowerFlare will not set anything on fire.  After recently running into Tricia Callahan, PowerFlare’s VP of sales, at the National Homeland Security Conference, I was a more than curious about her product.  She sent me a sample beacon so I could decide for myself whether I ever wanted to light another road flare again.  Full disclosure: Tricia didn’t have much work to do – when I was a rookie cop I ruined a new pair of uniform pants after some hot flare slag went flying and burned holes in the fabric.

PowerFlares come with many options – including a rechargeable version.  The standard power option is the single 3V CR123A lithium battery, making for a good shelf life.  Agencies and individuals can choose between many exterior “shell” colors as well as many lighting colors.  All models are equipped with a full range of lighting patterns, from rapid strobes, to steady-on, and in several levels of brightness.  The lights are LED, making them efficient, but I was worried about brightness and the distance from which they would be visible.  That didn’t appear to be an issue after a nighttime test, however, with the doughnut-sized lighting puck providing brilliant light – at least with the red LED version I was provided.

The lights appear well made, and equally tough.  They’re not light, so they will stay in place, and the weight gives them a rugged feel.  Mine came with an optional magnet, which allows for so many more mounting options that it should be universal.  For example, they can quickly adhere to a vehicle or temporary command post.  I’m not sure I could even see myself ordering a non-magnetic version.  I was so impressed by it that my evaluation of the PowerFlare began with me sticking it to any metal object I could find around the office.

Storage and deployment packaging for the PowerFlare is not short of options either.  From hard cases and bags, to the “bucket of beacons” with 24 or 36 units inside, there are almost too many options to choose from.  They’ve also thought of usability options too, with a traffic cone adapter that elevates the beacon above the roadway (though in my evaluation I seemed to prefer the way the light shines on the roadway surface when its on the ground).

Overall, the PowerFlare is a huge improvement over road flares for more reasons than I can count.  They are safe, waterproof, easy to carry, much easier to deploy, and the available options make them a no-brainer for emergency managers and first responders.  The only downside is that they could grow legs and walk away if left unattended in certain areas, but that’s true of any equipment of value or interest that is used in the field.

Let me know if you use PowerFlares or if you plan to – I’d love to hear what other people think about them.

You gotta problem with my lilacs?

The Mrs. publicly attacked me for aggravating her allergies by bringing a bouquet of lilacs into the house.  Sales of her favorite essential oil recipe for relief skyrocketed as she took to Facebook to blame my thoughtful gesture for her swollen eyes.  Never mind the tree pollen storm that just descended upon our quiet village (my car is now yellow – I have a yellow car), the small bunch of lilacs were the root of the problem, she was sure.

So let’s set the record straight.  Thanks to our friends at TheSpruce.com, I can confirm what I already knew and the Mrs. chose to ignore: though sometimes extremely fragrant, the lilac is low in allergy-inducing pollen.  Among the lilac’s partners in the fragrant but not-likely-sneeze-worthy category: “gardenia, hyacinth, jasmine [and lilacs]. (Many of the French hybrid lilacs and the white or yellow varieties are not as highly scented.)”  \

And furthermore, over to the good people at PollenLibrary.com, where we either learn a new word or they just made one up: Allergenicity.

Allergenicity: No allergy has been reported for Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) species.

So there you have it – I’ll wait for my public apology now.

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Where are the town police?

In recent months, local police have been behind such initiatives as “high-five Fridays,” with officers enthusiastically greeting school children in the morning.  The #CopsLoveLemonadeStands hashtag has thrived on social media, with some police departments even encouraging parents to “report” their child’s lemonade stand in advance so cops can use the opportunity to interact with kids between emergency calls.  Officers and kids come together to “shop with a cop” for school supplies purchased with donations for those in need.  Some young kids are even occasionally selected to have breakfast with a local officer, then get a first-class ride to school in a radio car.

None of these things happened in the Town of Montgomery, NY.

Nearly seven months into the school year and I have yet to see a police officer at Berea Elementary School during the morning drop-off or afternoon dismissal.  My wife hasn’t either.  When I queried school teachers at Berea, I was not surprised to hear that they rarely see police officers at the school outside of an occasional lock-down drill or when called because someone is using the school parking lot for “something crazy.”

There are too many precious opportunities missed.

Sadly, my emails and phone calls to Town of Montgomery Police Chief Amthor have gone unanswered.  The only strong public outreach I have noticed from the department recently has been an amnesty program for heroin addicts.  I recognize the epidemic and surge in overdose deaths, and I support efforts to curb it.  But the fact is that keeping a kid from taking a pill in the first place – and ultimately shooting up –should be just as high of a priority as helping someone get clean.  Much of this begins with opportunities to introduce our kids to our police – frequently, and in a positive setting.

Our area is blessed with outstanding local police officers – genuinely engaging and dedicated to the task.  I can only hope that the town leadership sees that we are failing our kids with virtually no police presence where it is needed most – at our schools and with our youth.

This letter originally appeared in the Wallkill Valley Times, March 22, 2017

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