We get pretty comfortable these days with our cell coverage especially when we are operating in areas where we only have “one foot” in nature. But being prepared for an emergency before we even leave for our adventure can make the difference between an inconvenience and a major uh-oh. I always have a little difficulty writing these kinds of posts because I don’t want to sound like a survival doomsday expert guy, we should be focused on having fun and an amazing trip be it on a local trail or deep in the back country. But what I want to touch on is some basics for signaling for help and the reasoning behind it. I believe if we are prepared with knowledge and some basic tools we can have a great time and the whole time.
So what are some scenarios we want to signal and how do we do it? Well the scenarios run the gambit from sliding down off a trail, a medical emergency like dehydration or getting stuck on a sandy desert road. See these are not really that crazy and can happen to any of us, once you realize that being prepared makes a lot more sense. So let’s talk about signaling…
You are signaling for your rescuers so think like them, are they in a plane or truck where they can see but not necessarily hear? Are they on foot hiking into you where they can hear but can’t see ten feet to the right or left of them because of brush? What are some common rescue signals and what are the tools at hand to affect them?
I tend to break it down like this, Audio they hear you and Visual they see you.
Audio is a simple as a whistle (because seeming will cause you to lose your voice, Honking a car horn, banging metal together. Use this wisely though because this is a finite recourse you will get tired or batteries will die.
Visual, I break down into Active and Passive. Passive would be a signal like “bread crumbs” leaving an obvious trail, making your self conspicuous like opening the hood of your car, signal panels, space blankets or ground to air signals. The key to this is being obvious, conspicuous and sticking out. Choose things that contrast with your environment like orange against green, shiny things arranged correctly. Active takes a little more planning and is a finite resource; your flash light will run out if batteries your car battery will die, the fire wood will burn up and so on. So look at it as a dual approach of passive until it’s time to get active.
Ok cool so Audio, Visual, Active, and Passive but what are some things to help us look like we need help and are not just crazy people? Well the one take away is the rule of three, three blasts of a whistle with a pause then repeat, three fires set up symmetrically or three large contrasting lines or objects. Even Morse Code SOS falls under the rule of three, it is three letters consisting of three pieces per letter. S … O --- S… so repeating three dots three long dashes and three dots again can be easily repeated with a whistle or light.
In the end you don’t have to be a survival or outdoors expert to know this, and I know most of you who are reading this probably won’t be the ones using it but will be the ones to recognize it and help out your fellow hikers.
Thanks again for taking the time to check this out and listing to be yammer on hopefully you learned or just reinstated what you already knew. As always we look forward to running into you Getting The Fox Out There!