How to send distress signals



If you’re in distress in the wilderness during the day, signal with sounds (gun, whistle, tin pans) in series of threes, each followed by a brief silence. Continue until someone responds. In areas where a sound’s effect might be limited (a valley or heavily wooded area), use visuals. Build a fire with fuel that will burn slowly and send up a thick, steady column of white smoke; use hardwood, leaves, moss, and ferns. Before igniting the pile, clear the ground around it. Stack the pile high so that the signal will have a long life. When rescue comes, extinguish the fire completely.

If there are aircraft in the area, flash a mirror, a shiny metal object, or glass. Draw attention to yourself by spreading bright-colored clothing on the ground.

If you are on a large expanse of snow, tramp out the words HELP or SOS 30 feet high with a 10-foot space between each letter. At night

Use a flashlight to signal SOS (3 short flashes, 3 long ones, 3 short ones) to an airplane. Knowing international Morse code will enable you to relay and receive detailed messages. Carry a copy of it with you. On the water

Maritime distress signals include red flares, an orange smoke signal, a signal mirror, an upside-down national flag, and continuous foghorn blasts. Announce “Mayday” (m’aider, French for “help me”) on radiotelephone channel 16 (156.8 MHz), the VHF-FM distress, safety, and calling frequency. On the highway

Tie a white cloth to your car’s antenna or door handle and raise the hood. In any situation, stay calm and conserve your energy while you await help.