Being able to signal for help could mean the difference between life and death for many people in survival situations. It’s helped people escape certain death before by signaling to commercial planes who called for rescue helicopters to save them.
Signaling devices are easy to use, compact, and lightweight. There are two different types of signaling devices that work better depending on the time of day:
- if it’s dark outside, glow sticks will work better,
- if it’s light outside, signaling mirrors will work better.
Cyalume sells bright, long lasting glow sticks for around $1 per stick. It’s best to get a color that stands out in your environment, such as blue in the forest or red out on the sea. When helicopters or planes fly overhead, they’ll see your light standing out, and send for rescue.
To use them, bend them until the glass inside breaks, and then shake it until it’s bright.
You can run a string through the hole at the top and swing it around to catch the attention of help quicker. You can also use the hooks and hang them around as a source of light if you don’t have a solid alternative.
During the day, glow sticks won’t stand out as much. Signaling mirrors are also easy to use and will quickly catch the attention of helicopters. There aren’t many naturally found items that reflect light like mirrors, so when a helicopter flying over a forest catches a glimmer of light coming from the woods, they get suspicious – and if they’re a search and rescue helicopter, they’ll send down a rescue crew to your location.
They’re very simple to use: with the reflective side facing away from you, look through the hole in the middle directly at the object you want to signal to. For example, you would stare up at the helicopter’s cockpit.
Finally, you can try to use whistles to signal for help. This will alert any ground-based rescue to your location, as it’s almost impossible to signal them with a mirror.
Storm makes a very loud alert whistle that can be heard far away – up to fifty feet underwater. This storm alert whistle produces high pitched sound at about 130dB, which is as loud as a tornado siren from fifty feet away, or a thunderclap from a few miles away. This will signal for help miles away, and may mean the difference between life and death.