Distress signals for vessels in Canada

Store pyrotechnics in a cool, dry place in a watertight container. To dispose of outdated flares, call the nearest police, Coast Guard or fire department.

Emergency Signal Types

Type A: Parachute Type B: Multi-star
  • seen from surface or air
  • 2 second delay after pulling pin
  • burns at least 40 seconds
  • seen from surface or air
  • burns 5 seconds
  • if single-star, you need twice as many
Type C: Hand held Type D: Buoyant or hand held
  • limited surface visibility
  • visible from airplane
  • smoke flare for day signal only
  • burns 3 minutes

Other distress signals

Calling for Help in an Emergency

Cell Phone Users: Call *OPP (*677) to reach the nearest OPP detachment in Ontario.

Search and Rescue: Call *16 to have your call routed to the nearest Canadian Coast Guard radio station. Their Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Trenton, Ontario is toll-free 1-800-267-7270.

CB Radio Users: Channel 9 is monitored by various agencies for emergency assistance.

VHF Radio Users: The Coast Guard monitors VHF Channel 16 (156.8 MHz) on a 24 hour basis. See the VHF Marine Radio for information about emergency calls and MAYDAY procedures in particular. The following is an example of a radio call when help is required for an imminent threat to human life:

This is the pleasure craft SLOW POKE. {name of vessel}
We are at BUOY NUMBER 140 ON LAKE ONTARIO. {exact location}
We are TAKING ON WATER {nature of distress} and require Pumps. {assistance required}
Turn down radio "squelch" and listen carefully for an answer.
Repeat if there is no answer.