Micro Ventures: Signaling for Help
Yes, technology allows us to be connected way more than we ever have before. It’s harder to find remote areas away from cell service but when you do, it’s good to have a back-up plan to signal for help, plus batteries do not last forever. So what if you don’t have a radio, cell service, or a personal locator beacon?
First, check to see if you do in fact do not have cellphone service. If there are others in your group, have everyone turn on their phones as different cellphone providers have different coverage areas. If you are able to call for help, use the how to communicate an incident using radios for how to share details to dispatch.
If you are lost without a way to contact others by phone or radio here are ways to signal for help so you can get found.
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Lindsey Gautheir from Adventure Ready Brands shares how to signal for help when needed.
Once you do signal, STAY PUT. You don’t want to become more lost than you already are and will help rescuers locate you faster.
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Audible signaling can be used, especially if someone is within earshot of you. The point is to be disruptive so others don’t think it is surrounding noise. Here are some tips on how to get someone's attention.
Whistles are a sound of distress and can be heard for about a mile depending on the whistle. Do 3 loud bursts, wait a 30 seconds to a minute, and repeat.
If you don’t have a whistle, try audible calls for help or whistling yourself.
If audible signaling doesn’t work, you’ll need to try to get attention from the air. Below are a few ways to get the attention of passerby aircrafts, like a rescue helicopter.
The goal with your mirror is to reflect light in the direction of passing planes or vehicles so they will see your location and send rescuers to you. A signal mirror has a range up to 10 miles away. Take the mirror and look through the hole in the mirror. Aim the mirror, find a target and rock the mirror side to side, up & down so others can tell there is someone actively using the mirror to get attention. Practice in your neighborhood and with the people (or outdoor adventure partners) you know might be looking for the signal.
Don’t have a signaling mirror? Find something reflective in your bag, like an emergency blanket or compass mirror that can be used to reflect light.
If you’re lost in a remote area, chances are your rescue will come from the sky. Find a large open area and arrange natural objects such as branches, boulders and clothing to form your ‘HELP’ message.
If forced to leave your location, create ground markers that indicate you were there. Markers can be anything: clothing tied to a tree, notes on pieces of tape or arrows made from found objects pointing in the direction you’ve gone.
This might be the most commonly known method as smoke can billow up and be seen from miles away. Use branches and leaves to make the fire smokey. Although the conditions must be right for this signal to be effective and safe. Be aware of your surroundings and know if creating a fire is wise. Fires can also be used for warmth if you do have to stay an unplanned night outside.
Use other items that you might have at your disposal, like a flashlight on a strobe setting, especially at night.
Being prepared when you go outdoors for things you don’t expect, like getting separated from you group, is part of being a great adventurer. Make sure you really have all the supplies you need in any circumstance. Many survival kits come with a signaling device, like a mirror and a whistle.
Part of being prepared is sharing your outdoor adventures with a friend in-town that you can check in with when you return. If you don’t return, they can call for help or report you missing and can contact the local search and rescue team.
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