Emergency Signals

Here is an article from CE Harris on signal to use if you are lost in the back country or separated from your group.

Mirror flashes are the best daytime signal device and can be seen by search aircraft for miles. Smoke signals are also useful if you pre-set signal fires in threes, ready to light. Auto hubcaps containing rags soaked with crankcase oil are a good improvised signal.

VS-17 panel

A military VS-17 signal panel takes up little space in your kit, is highly visible and is multi-purpose, serving also as a ground cloth or improvised poncho.

ICAO surface-to-air signals are also useful to know. Stamp these out in the snow or beach arrange large piles of branches or rocks, 20 feet high or more which can be seen readily from search aircraft:

V Require assistance
X Need medical assistance
Y Yes – affirmative
N No – negative
→ I am proceeding in this direction

At night a flashing signal strobe light is best, but signal fires in groups of three will also attract attention. Pyrotechnic signal flares are bulky, a fire hazard and are a one-chance deal. Much better are laser signal devices designed for this purpose, such as the Greatland Rescue Laser. http://www.bestglide.com/rescue_laser_flare.html

Everyone outdoors should carry at least a simple whistle. It can be heard for a greater distance than yelling and it takes much less effort.

2 thoughts on “Emergency Signals”

  1. Matt in Oklahoma

    Got to looking at that VS17 panel and the prices vary greatly. This one is more reasonable
    http://www.bestglide.com/VS17_Info.html for $8
    some places are charging $40

    As hunters we keep our orange vest and stocking caps in our bags at all times anyway. The vest have allowed us several times to signal our locations and the stocking caps help at night even when it is 100+ in the summer as you are still sweating when the night cools and it gives you a piece of orange to wave for motion attractant. We also use the Bear Grylis survival knives that do well as a hunting blade (but unfortunately no gut hook) and it has a whistle on it.

  2. I keep a VS-17 in each vehicle, because if you must stop to change a flat, or whatever, when spread across the open trunk lid or rear deck hatch, it makes the vehicle much more visible. I carry a flashing strobe marker and reflectors in the vehicles also.

    Agree Best Glide ASE is a reliable source for high quality survival gear. Their equipment has saved my bacon more than a few times.

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