Distress Signals – What You Need To Know

Distress signals
Source: www.outdoorlife.com

Let’s hope you never need to signal for help in an emergency, but if the situation should arise, you want to know that you can do it effectively. You should practice signaling for help before you are stuck out in the wild alone.

It is a great idea to keep with you, at all times…

A cell phone or two-way radio for communication whenever possible. There are times when these items will not work. In these situations, you should have a whistle handy to alert others to your location. Blowing a whistle makes a lot of noisy racket that will undoubtedly get the attention of someone in the area.

Letting someone know you are in trouble is the best way to get help.

If these forms of signaling do not work, you must use visual signals to attract others to you. Fire, flares, and S.O.S. signals are excellent ways to let others know you are in distress. But first you’ll want to find the best location for signaling for help.

The key to visual signals for help is location, select the site wisely.

It can make the difference between survival and death. Signaling is best when performed near your shelter in an area of clearing. Try an open field, lake shore, or hilltop. The area must have high visibility for good results.

Also, keep in mind that a search crew will be looking for you near your planned route. So, it is important to stay near the planned area whenever possible. Venturing off looking for help may not be the best plan of action.

Indicate your distress by using the S.O.S. signal.

This is internationally known to mean someone is in trouble and needs help. Signal this to others by creating three short signals, followed by three long signals, then three short signals.

You can use  a strobe light or flashlight to signal for help. Or better yet, get a flashlight that has strobe and S.O.S. settings, like the Lumentech Military Torch Flashlight.

If the three short and long signals are difficult, try signaling the same thing three times in a row.

Signal for help during the day with mirrors or by using rocks and logs.

Make the area visible by air and by ground. Spell out the word “Help” or spell S.O.S., for instance in a clearing with logs or stones. If the search crew is flying overhead, this will certainly get their attention, bringing the help to you rapidly.

By night, your fire may be visible.

Make three fires in a row or triangle shape. This is another international signal for help. The smoke from the fire is visible for miles during the day and highly visible by night.

You can also create a thick smoke by partially smothering the fire with green vegetation, leaves or moss. This will make the fire more noticeable.

Lastly, being aware of distress signals and knowing how to use flares or mirrors can send help in your direction when you need it. Practice these outdoor survival skills before an emergency arrives to allow the best results in the event of a survival situation.

Hand mirrors for signaling, for example, are not the easiest gadgets to master. Pair up with a friend and see if the two of you can send signals to each other using the mirrors. This activity is fun and practices a survival skill, too.