How do I signal for help if I am lost or stranded somewhere off the beaten path or roadway? Here are a few ideas for signaling to others, or rescuers, of your location.
First, if you are stranded in a vehicle or a crashed plane for example, no matter what the season, it is usually best to stay with the vehicle. This will provide some form of shelter, as well as materials that you could use for your survival. It will be easier for others to spot the vehicle than it will be to spot you walking in the woods.
Signaling for helpConsider keeping any or all of these items in each of your survival kits.
A mirror. Keep a small mirror which can be used for signaling (or snap off the rear-view mirror in the vehicle and use it). You can get a small inexpensive cosmetic mirror at nearly any store (you may also find a ‘survival mirror’ which has a spotting hole in the middle). If a search plane is flying nearby, simply reflect the suns rays towards the airplane or helicopter. Similarly, angle towards a moving vehicle or search party some distance away.
A fire and smoke. Have a means to build a fire (matches, lighter, magnesium firestarter) . Once a fire is built, and hot, you could drop some green evergreen boughs on it which will produce a lot of smoke. Oil from your vehicle when spread on a fire will create lots of smoke. Throwing a tire onto a very hot fire will create billows of smoke once the tire begins burning. A fire at night will create a significant Infrared heat signature for anyone searching with IR devices.
A flag. Tie some length of bright colored material to a long stick or branch to wave around if you spot rescuers.
A whistle. The sound of a whistle will pierce the air much further than your shouting voice!
An air horn… one of those things that people use at sporting events, etc. You can get these at most any sporting goods store, and they are LOUD.
A radio transmitter. A CB radio or personal hand held type radios may capture someone within range.
Anything out-of-the-ordinary in an otherwise natural setting will attract attention. In a clearing, align a bunch of logs or big branches into an SOS pattern. Be creative and use what you have on your person, in your kit, or in your vehicle to attract attention. A mylar ‘space blanket’ typically has a highly reflective surface which will be very visible from above if laid on the ground (secure the corners with rocks so it won’t blow away!). Use your imagination with materials on hand to attract attention.
Add to this list by leaving a comment with your own ideas of how to signal for help during an emergency!
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