Why not use fireworks?You don't have to wait for Halloween or any other occasion (though, they are much easier to obtain then), instead try your nearest Chinatown
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Illegal in many areas. And a bad idea in uncontrolled conditions; last thing you need is to start a fire...
'illegal' and 'bad ideas' are my specialty.
Don't you mean "party pooper" (c.f., your other answer)? :-D
Maybe.I do understand that folks might prefer something that behaved more like a real flare gun -- higher and more visible. The closest thing I can think of which would be tiny yet actually effective and still safe enough for use as a toy would be something like a slingshot-launched parachute-landing capsule carrying either a smoke charge (talcum powder?) or a strobe light depending on whether you want it visible during day or night.
I was thinking of using a 15. IPO-FIN Model rocket engine and strapping it to some really, big strobe fireworks you can get anywhere for 50 cents. then, taking durable PVC piping, lacing it to a wooden board, with a flintlock triger-pull-release that would ignite the fuse, therefore propelling the rocket into the air, then when the quickburn RAMD wadded on top of the engine catches, it will ignite the Strobes at around 2500 feet. (or i could just get my old man to get me some flares and a flare gun)
Real flare gun is almost certainly safer, certainly more reliable, probably more compact (you can get some pretty tiny one-time-use flares), would almost certainly work better for the intended purpose...Of course if you put anything of this sort into the air, you risk having people come to try help you with your emergency, and they may not be happy if there isn't one. You may want to research whether there's such a thing as a "practice flare", which indicates somehow (by color?) that it shouldn't be taken seriously.
I believe that it is the safest (and most practical) option, but i'm dead near positive that a regular flare gun costs more than a home-built one. then again, i DO risk federal offense by Faked Emergency and spend a couple weeks in the slammer. BUT! i could just use some bottle rockets strapped to each other. they wouldn't make a real bright flash, but the 110 decibel sound emmited would certainly alert my friends of an impending zombah attack.