Quick Signalling Tips:
1. Create a signal fire
2. Make use of available space and create ground-to-air signals
3. Utilize bright-colored fabrics and create a makeshift flag
4. Use a mirror & reflect sunlight off of it
5. Blow a whistle
Always plan and pack ahead of time for ways to signal for help when you are headed into the wilderness. Anything can happen! Always have fun BUT always be safe and prepared for anything!
Here are some things to consider (for signaling purposes) when packing your pack. These things could end up truly saving your life!
- A lighter or a ferro rod with a good source of tinder. Finding dry tinder outdoors isn’t always easy. Consider putting the lighter and cotton balls in separate, sealed plastic bags so they can remain dry. A good source of tinder that you can bring from home are cotton balls.
- Some bright colored material such as a t-shirt, bandanna, or tarp. OR all three…why not right? Bright orange material is a great example. Orange brings great contrast with your outdoor surroundings, which we will talk about in a minute.
- A small mirror. (A makeup compact mirror or a car side mirror are great signalers)
- Paracord (I prefer 550). You may not find a use for it for signaling purposes but then again, you may. Paracord is just an item to always have with you.
- A whistle.
- And of course a great survival knife.
Ways To Signal For Help
- A signal fire. If you are lost in the wilderness getting a fire started as soon as possible is so important for so many reasons: to prevent hypothermia, to ward off predators and pesky insects, and in the instance that you are lost, to send a signal for help! To make a signal fire a possible success you need the smoke to be as black as possible. Black smoke is more visible and usually means (when spotted) that someone needs rescue. To accomplish this, when you get the fire roaring, place the greenest vegetation you can find and place directly on the flames. I also want to note that rubber tires cause black smoke as well.
- If you are in a large open area, an additional signal for help is to make Ground-To-Air Symbols. You can make them with different types of vegetation such as fallen tree limbs and/or piles of pine needles, etc. Just make sure whatever vegetation you use has a visual contrast to the ground so it can be easily seen from the air. Here is an example of different symbols and their meanings:
- The bright colored shirt, bandanna, and tarp you packed….put them to good use! Wear the shirt so you are easily spotted by someone. Use the bandanna as a makeshift flag. Hang the bandanna (now a flag) out in the open and up high so it too can be easily spotted. The tarp should be used as shelter at night but during the day let it be as visible as possible especially if you’re in an open area. And, as I mentioned earlier, the colors of your material should be as bright as possible.
- Another great signaling device is a mirror. A compact mirror or a car side mirror are perfect for signaling. Reflect it off the sun and others in the distance can see what appears to be a “flashlight”. Do 3 reflective flashes in a row which is the universal sign for help otherwise known as S.O.S.
- Here is an item I ALWAYS carry. A whistle. It’s small and will fit on your keychain or around your neck and it’s great for signaling for rescue. This is the one I carry. It’s small but it is LOUD. Whistle 3 times in a row to signal for S.O.S.
Like I said before, have fun….be adventurous! But always be smart (use your instincts), know your surroundings, never go alone, and stick close to one another. ALWAYS carry a compass and pay attention to the direction of your travels.
Being in the wilderness is a wonderful thing….some of the best memories you’ll ever make!