Survival Starts at Home: Signaling, one of the more underused, carried and understood concepts of backcountry travel is signaling. Like what am I talking about when I even bring it up, who are we trying to signal and how are we doing it. Well like we say Survival Starts at Home with planning, training and communicating a plan.
Most of us have a great little signal device we carry everywhere with us, our cell phones but they also have some draw backs and we should be prepared to get someone’s attention if that doesn’t work after all they backcountry is not known for its cell reception and since we use them as our maps, cameras and social media hubs the batteries can run down quickly.
So, first topic cell phones, have a plan if the cell doesn’t work i.e. have an itinerary let someone know where you are going and what you are doing. Have a drop-dead time they will contact help for you. Also, with your cell phone having a backup power supply is never a bad idea and I always have one if I’m planning on an all-day hike or overnight trip, after all who wants to stress about juice when you should be taking pictures. Another thing that I do is have a waterproof bag for my charger, cord and any other electronics. The bag should also be big enough to fit you phone f the weather goes really bad and the other upside is waterproof is also dust proof, so it is worth carrying in any climate.
Like I said in my shelter blog last week, your first line of shelter is what you are wearing, well that can also be applied to signaling, can you easily be seen in what you are wearing? I like earth tones so I make sure I also carry something bright I can attach to me to help be seen easier. Keep in mind this is not just for getting rescued, I have had some hikes that have put me on the road in a storm at night so being seen by cars was really important to me at that moment ha-ha, remember signaling is communicating.
Like I said with the shelter class where you take shelter and where you get rescued could be separate areas so if you have bright clothing but are in a cave they can’t see you and that bright jacket con only do one thing at once, signal or keep you warm. Be careful about having multi use items that replace something that should stand alone. A good example here is whistles, I love they have them built into gear like our backpacks but what if you get separated? There is some gear that should stay on you at all times, people get lost going to the bathroom just stepping off of camp.
That’s also a good reason everyone should have the basics on them at all times, it’s not always life or death you can actually avoid that by just being able to communicate in your group. “hey where is camp” hit the whistle they whistle back boom you’re not lost; this also is really good for kids; your kids should have a whistle on them at all times. A quality whistle like a Fox 40 is a legit way to get heard and won’t die out like you voice if your yelling for a long time. Also, critters and weirdos don’t like loud whistles either.
No this is my no means a compressive list of signaling gear and skills but a quick introduction to some ideas and things we do. If you want to learn a little more about our style when it comes to backcountry skills stop by for one of our classes, where we go over the concepts and gear. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to Get The Fox Out There!