Spain (5)

International Distress Signals: Just in Case

When going out on a trip specially in the great outdoors, the chances of something going wrong tend to increase. Knowing how to ask for  help in these cases can mark the difference between life and death. So being prepared for these unfortunate scenarios is always advisable. Here are a couple of tips that can be used in the event you decide to take a hike, you have to leave your camper behind, or there is an accident. Knowing these two international distress signals can really make your rescue much faster.

Rule of Threes:


from: snow mobile course
from: snow mobile course

This is the most common way to signal for help and must be understood.  Basically whatever help signal you intend to use, it should be in threes.  Here are some common signals used with this method:


Make three fires in a triangle shape, and each fire should be 50ft apart from the other.  Find an open clearing preferably as high up the mountain as you can so its more visible to rescuers.  If your making the fire during the daytime, use wood that is wet and damp so the smoke is dark and contrasts with the sky.  If your making the fire when its dark, use drier wood for a bright fire.


If you are unable to make fire, you can use what is available in the forest.  Build a large triangle using large dead branches or rocks.  Build it as large as possible so its clearly visible from a distance.


A whistle is an essential item that should be carried by any hiker, just put it around your neck and your good to go.  When using a whistle, make three sounds about 5 seconds apart.  Then wait a couple minutes and repeat.


Make three quick flashes towards any rescuers you may see 5 seconds apart.  Repeat after a couple minutes.


Signal Mirror

Always carry a signal mirror when hiking, its light and compact so its not a burden to keep in your backpack.  The signal is the same here, three flashes 5 seconds apart towards any rescuers, then repeat after a couple minutes.



This is the other distress signal you can use to signal for help.  Originally used by the German government in the early 1900s by using the “Morse Code” via radio.  It is still a popular distress signal to this day.  SOS does not stand for anything in particular, but people have made their own meanings like “send out succour” or “save our souls” or “sink or swim” or the widely used “save our ship.”
The SOS Morse code is as follows: S stands for 3 dots, O stands for 3 dashes, then S again as 3 dots.  Use this signal via a radio device, a signal mirror, a flashlight or any other items you may have to send out a signal.

from: the flagrants
from: the flagrants



source: Astute Hiker

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