Survival Guide: The Book All Survivalist and Preppers Need ( 3 in 1 ) (2016)
For all the preparation and planning you do to survive, the irony is that, all you actually want to do is go home. Signaling can be influential in getting you there. While setting up shelter and the what-nots are significant, once you have established immediate safety, you need to prepare your signals. And since you can never be too sure when a possible rescuer will come your way, you need to be prepared to signal at all times. Here are some techniques you can use for signaling.
These signals need to be heard or seen by a target, for instance, someone in a boat, in a plane, or on foot, in order to be effective. Some are ready to use, while for others, you’ll need to create yourself.
When using a visual signal to attract a passing aircraft, position it in a flat, vivid area on the highest terrain available. Keep in mind that an aircraft will likely not land right away. Look for the pilot’s acknowledgement by flashing lights, dipping the aircraft’s wings, dropping a message, or flying low. So how do you signal? Here are a few ways to do that:
One way you can get attention is to reflect the sun’s rays to distant objects, like a helicopter or airplane, using a mirror, which can reflect light up to 50 miles away on an open plane. It’s more effective to signal at a distant aircraft than one that’s just above you because the pilot cannot see you from directly above.
There are specially designed signaling mirrors that are made with a sighting hole at the center. However, you can use any shiny surface, like a knife blade, watch, or a compass, if you have one. Direct the reflection to the distant target until you get a response.
The Signal Fire
You must ensure that you build this in an open space, and watch your timing. You need to have set the signal fire when an aircraft passes overhead. Maintain the signal fire after lighting it, just in case the pilot tries to communicate with you.
The target will probably spot the smoke the most during the day, so you’ll want to have as many items as possible that can create more of it. These include plastic and rubber, which produce black smoke, and green (fresh) boughs and branches that produce white smoke. Punky wood or moss can also be effective.
If possible, go for black smoke because this will likely not be mistaken for a campfire. In any case, smoke will work well on clear and calm days. Clouds, snow, rain, and wind shield or disperse smoke, significantly reducing its chances of being seen. Either way, you will not need the smoke at night, since the flame will be easily visible from above.
How to make a signal fire
*Start by creating a tripod of 3 trees.
*If you have an extra rope, form a platform by weaving it across the base, and then fill it with dry materials like birch bark. Place smoke-producing materials at the top, such as plastic, rubber, punky wood, or damp moss.
*Light the signal fire when a plane approaches.
The Tree Torch
This is a slight variation of the signal fire that involves setting one tree on fire. Although the most effective trees to use are dead, standing trees, you can also use live trees, especially those that bear sap. The thin bark of paper birch trees also light easily.
To create a tree torch, put dry wood at the lower branches, and set them on fire. The flame should flare upwards and ignite the overhead leaves. When making a tree torch, make sure the tree is isolated to avoid starting a forest fire!
Clothe And Rag Signals
One other way you can attract attention is to wear bright colored clothes that stand out from your surroundings (for instance, fluorescent orange). If there is no risk of them being blown away or getting wet, drape some of them on close by branches. In addition, wrap a brightly colored clothing or rag at your shelter.
The best way to make ground signals is to choose an open space that can spotted easily from above. Keep in mind that things are significantly smaller from an aerial view, so size means everything.
There are several ways you can take advantage of the orange garbage bags you’ve packed in your survival kit - they make great ground signals because they will usually be in significantly contrast with the earth tones. Place them flatly on the ground in an open area, and use rocks to hold them in place. However, if these are not available, try using aluminum foil, orange surveyor’s tape, or anything reflective or bright. You can also spell out HELP or SOS on the ground, but this can require a lot of labor. If you don’t have the energy or materials to do this, a large X or V should be effective.
On the other hand, if your kit does not have the necessary tools to make a signal, natural materials can also work well. Use branches, seaweed, brush, logs, or rocks designed in words or any noticeable marking. If none of these materials are available, you can also make a signal by burning or clearing away bushes and other ground cover.