Saturday, February 26, 2011

How To Signal Rescuers

Some of the most popular forms of signaling rescuers are listed and explained below. I will also release a more advanced list in the next upcoming months as well.

Fire – the most common Internationally recognized signal for a fire is three fires shaped in a triangular pattern. Three fires in a straight line equal distances apart is also a recognized signal. Keep in mind that visibility may come from either an airplane or helicopter so the distances between each fire need to be enlarged as well as the fires themselves. Even though it may look adequate from the ground or your perspective, try to imagine it from the rescuers perspective and plan accordingly. Fires are best seen at night rather than the day, so your best course of action is attempting this during nightfall.

Smoke – Whereas Fire is easily seen at night, smoke can be seen for up to several miles away during daylight. This will require a large fire that will not be easily interrupted by adding large amounts of green vegetation. Once a large fire is built and stabilized, throw on a massive amount of newly cut green vegetation onto the fire. This will create a large white plume of smoke for signaling. The Internationally recognized smoke signal distress call is three separate plumes of smoke. To produce the signal you will need a large coat, sleeping bag, blanket, or animal skin. If water is available then soak the item used to signal to avoid it catching fire. Cover the fire for about one to two seconds between smoke plumes to create a signal with three breaks in the cloud.

Signaling Mirror - This method usually works best at an area of higher elevation so if there is a hill, cliff, plateau, or other high spot, try signaling airplanes, helicopters, or boats from this area. You may have a signaling mirror in your survival kit but if not try to recover something shinny such as a flask, car mirror, aluminum can turned inside out, anything that could reflect sunlight. Using the object, try to point the reflective surface towards your target and move it from side to side and up and down rapidly but steady to signal. Any heavy cloud cover, foggy conditions, or thunderstorms will decrease the intensity of your reflective signaling so aim for clear and sunny conditions. Sometimes it is helpful to cut or poke a small hole in the center of the reflective object to look through in order to make it easier to aim. The larger the surface area, the better your signaling capabilities so try combining multiple objects in one large assembly to better increase your chances of being seen.

Trail Signaling – Although it is always advised to stay near a vehicle, airplane crash, or other easily spotted objects, sometimes because of food, water, shelter, and fire making one must travel away from their origins. If you do so, there are ways to help rescuers find you given that you’re not originally where they discover an area. You want to leave as many clues as possible as the rescuers themselves have gone through advanced training in order to help locate you. If you head in a general direction, try assembling a series of arrows made out of logs, lumber, rocks, or written in sand near the vehicle. If you have any orange tape, make small flags leading from that area to your campsite. If you don’t have any other means to mark a trail, use your knife to mark an X among trees, break sticks and brush over in an obvious fashion, or drag a stick into the ground while applying pressure to help leave a trail.

SOS – The SOS symbol is also widely known and recognized. This can either be composed of as a symbol or even radioed in using standard Morse code. The Morse code for SOS is 3 dots (or beeps), then 3 dashes (or longer beeps), followed by 3 more dots (or beeps). You can also try composing a signal using rocks, logs, green brush, or anything else that would stick out and spell SOS. Just like any signal, make sure it contrasts with its surrounding so that it will be easier to sport by rescuers. Also keep in mind that it will be viewed from far distances so be sure to make it large enough to be spotted. Something that looks to be sufficient from the ground may be almost invisible from the air or water.

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