In most cases, when catastrophe strikes near or on you, you're going to need some help. Having a few easy to use, easy to store items near by will go a long ways towards effecting a positive outcome during your time of need.
In most cases, when catastrophe strikes near or on you, you're going to need some help. Having a few easy to use, easy to store items near by will go a long ways towards affecting a positive outcome during your time of need. In this article I am going to focus on tools that get you noticed and versatile enough to support most venues you could encounter. Signal Kits: There are plenty of commercially available, low-cost signal kits that will cover most of what you need. Generally they include
some kind of strobe light and signal mirror, but some may come with colored panels. Lets break down basic signal kit items:
- Strobe lights blast bright pulsing light that are easy to distinguish from ambient back ground lighting like in a city, or against a city backdrop. Don't assume you will be somewhere doing any given task, I've seen first hand vehicle accidents just outside of city limits where ambient lighting could and would interfere if you tried to signal with a flashlight. The pulse of a strobe is unique enough that emergency crews would naturally gravitate towards your signal.
- Signal mirrors are tried and true. Even on a cloudy day they can reach out for miles. They work along the same lines of a strobe in that emergency crews can easily decipher a distress pulse from any surrounding light ambience. These are handy in and out of the city and are logistically manageable for the pocket Everyday Carry or EDC.
- Signal Panels work because they offer contrast. That's why certain colors are generally reserved for safety, like orange or neon green/yellow. Of course their being bright helps get noticed but when a bright orange panel is flown it doesn't match anything in the immediate area, and more likely to draw attention to the eye. This is important to understand if and when you're trying to create an emergency panel/beacon in a hurry. Contrast is king...
Signal Flares and pen flares: Flares are great because they generate a tremendous amount of explosive light and can even be used during the day. Of course they burn so use caution, but having said that flares are cheap, safe and readily deployable for almost any venue.
- Road flares have long burns times and require you to create a "clear" area around them so they don't start a fire. Most of them are reusable and are uber handy when you're having a hard time starting a survival fire.
- Pen flares shoot a few hundred feet into the air like a streamer and will broadcast your location thru thick vegetation or over buildings. These are small enough to fit in most pockets and certainly gloves boxes, but take care in aiming and save them for when you actually see the rescuers....You don't want to run out of flares putting on a fireworks display for no one to see!
- Whistles and bangers can be launched from most pen flare sets. If it makes sense to send out an echo against a canyon or city wall, bangers and whistles may be a good addition to your pen flare set. These are also good deterrents for people hiking in the woods where unwanted animal contact is likely...
Beacons: There are three types of beacons used to transmit distress signals, EPIRBs (for maritime use), ELTs (for aviation use), and PLBs (used for land-based applications). I wont go to far into this for this article because its a class all on its own, but NOAA has an excellent article on how they work and how they can be used. Click here to learn more about beacons... SOS: There was a time when SOS was a universal distress code, but this day and age I wouldn't bet my life on it. Having said that it's still a good tool to have in your toolbox. 3 short dots followed by 3 long dashes, followed by 3 short dots spells I NEED HELP! While I'm not suggesting you sit back and bang out code over the radio all day, the SOS can still be used to broadcast a visual signal across the international language barrier as well. If its contrast that gets you noticed, the pattern gets you understood! Build your emergency signals into an SOS with both letters AND dots to increase the likelihood a passerby wont mistake your signal for woodland junk! In this example, notice how the shadow gives contrast which allows this SOS to be seen from much farther away. Use the rule of 3: When you finally think your signal is big enough, make it 3 times larger.... In the prepper community a lot of emphasis is placed on staying hidden and living as a ghost, and for the most part we can agree as long as that makes sense. For the vast majority of Americans out there, being prepared means knowing what to do and having what you need to do it with. This means understanding and accepting that help from rescue units is vital and critical to a well prepared family. This article is intended to explain and validate the use of basic survival items for the average American family and is by no means a comprehensive lesson plan. If you have any questions please feel free to hit us on Facebook or leave a comment below! As always thank you!