Sometimes, no matter how prepared we are, we will find ourselves in a bad situation. There might be times we just need someone to find us. But how do we help make that happen? Here are some of the most common distress signals and how to do them.
Maybe you got lost in the woods. Maybe you’re injured and can’t move quickly. Maybe your boat ran out of fuel and your radio is busted. Or, if this even happens in real life, maybe you’re stranded on an island. You didn’t bring a satellite phone because they’re expensive and you didn’t think you’d need it. Your only hope then is that either someone notices your missing long enough and they go looking for you or you come across a stranger and they help.
But to do that, you need to make yourself known. Here are three of the biggest way to send a distress signal.
Simple but effective, making noise helps search parties locate your specific position. But shouting will only wear out your throat. While an air horn, honking occasionally would work. let’s assume that you don’t carry one with you everywhere.
Instead, consider the whistle. They can be small. So small that you can tie one to hiking boots and not even notice. This way it’s always with yout when in the wilderness. You can then whistle as noisily as you want, making a loud and trackable sound.
Smoke Signals/Signal Fires
If you can’t be heard, maybe you can be seen. The best way to do this is with a signal fire. By burning dry, smokey material, you can create a noticeable pillar of smoke rising into the sky.
A signal fire can be made the same way as a normal one. The main difference, however, is the fuel you use to burn. Dry wood, dry leaves, twigs, and other high-smoke making fuels work best. If fuel sources are limited, then be choosy about when to make the fire. If there is hardly any dry wood around, best not make a signal fire on a windy night.
But if you’re in an opening, a regular fire could be a source of light that search parties find.
The third option is to signal toward an aircraft using the reflection of the sun. Using a mirror or reflective piece of metal, you can angle it so that the sun reflects toward a plane or helicopter. Ideally, the pilot or other operatives will see the shining and know its someone signaling for help. If they’re a search party, they will go to you. If not, they will notify the local authorities that someone needs help.
Here’s how to ensure an accurate reflection with a mirror. Hold the reflective item against your forehead and hold your other hand out in front of you. Make a V shape with your hand and try to aim the sun’s reflection for your fingers. Now aim your entire self so that the aircraft is between your fingers. This should give you a fairly accurate reflection on the target.
This is also why its a good idea to keep a small makeup mirror as a constant carry item.