Hikers, kayakers and adventurous souls frequently get stranded in less than desirable areas. Same can happen in an SHTF scenario. One minute you are gathering wild raspberries or looking for a fresh water source, next – you have no idea where you are.
The effectiveness of the rescue signaling techniques depends on the extent of the situation, the availability of emergency services, your location, weather, etc. Remember to cater to your “audience.” If we are talking about a complete societal collapse, your audience is probably your friends, family or survival group and you may be using walkie-talkies and GPS or simply smoke signals. If the world as we know it is not over and your audience consists of emergency workers, locals and other adventurous souls, you can use a radio, phone and other, more primitive signaling tools. It is always best to notify your family or friends about your plans.
What to do first if you are lost or stranded:
- If you have a whistle, use it as soon as you figure out that you are in trouble.
- If you have a cell phone, contact 911. Remember, even if your phone is not in service, you can place an emergency call. Also, emergency workers will likely be able to determine your location because your phone is equipped with a GPS.
- Tune in to local search and rescue frequencies and radio for help. If you are using a walkie-talkie or a radio, say “Mayday Mayday, Mayday!” and speak your name, location and number of people in need of rescuing. Repeat the information over and over.
What to do after you’ve already used electronic devices or if there are none:
- Find a wide open area to make signals.
- Use natural or man-made materials to create a sign or something that indicates that you are in trouble. Keep in mind that a common sign for help is triangle, meaning that you build signals in a shape of a triangle, whether it is fires, piles of bright clothing or piles of natural materials. For the benefit of aircraft, if you have an open enough area, you can spell “help.”
- Use 3 fire signals in a shape of a triangle at night and smoke signals during the day. To create smoke signals, build a campfire first and then throw some live plants in it to create smoke. As always, take precautions to make sure your fires do not get out of control and spread to the surrounding vegetation. You can make a pit for each fire or you can dig a shallow trench around each fire.
- Signal with a reflective object. Aircraft operators will likely notice a reflective signal. You can use a mirror, a Mylar blanket, a soda can or any other reflective object you happen to have. If your reflective surface is dull, polish it with sand or dirt.
- Create commotion to attract attention. Movement is pretty easy to notice, especially if search and rescue workers do flyovers. Tie a large piece of clothing to a stick and wave it like your life depends on it (because it probably does!)
- If you are on the move, leave signs pointing in the direction that you are heading so your rescue can track you down. It can be arrows made of rocks or other prominent signals.
Make a list of items that will help you signal for help and add them to your hiking bag.
To your survival,