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Thread: Signaling and Getting Found!

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    Packmaster Actual Supporter
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    Default Signaling and Getting Found!

    We spend a lot of time talking about survival and all the tips, tricks and kit thatís needed for survival. Heck even the TV reality/drama shows focus on the aspect of surviving. But one thing I donít see a lot of is the skill of getting found. Having skills and a plan around getting found is something to consider.

    I am lost now what? First step we are all taught is to remain calm and start taking stock of what you got. Of course you want to think about how to get yourself out of this mess. But if you are in a situation where you canít get un-lost or injury, weather etc. is preventing from getting home then you need to think about making your self-seen and above all staying put!

    The majority of searches here in the Midwest and East are by ground teams that are volunteer resources or attached to a Sheriff department. These resources are limited and do not always have the ability to utilize air assets such as plans or helicopters. The task is typically a ground search that is orchestrated by an Incident Command staff. This involves ground teams walking and looking along with K9 units. Ground to air signals may not be very effective, especially if you are deep in the Eastern woods. Out west in more open terrain your strategy will change and be more focused on being seen from great distances.

    In my kit I want ways to signal that can be seen by another person on the ground and through trees. That means I need to create motion, color and noise if possible to get someoneís attention. Not always easy.

    Some simple methods:
    1. Orange hunting vest hung in a tree
    2. Surveyorís tape hanging in a tree (catches wind and has movement)
    3. Smoke/Fire (we all know how to do that)
    4. Beacon or strobe light (headlamp function or a dedicated strobe)
    5. Whistle (3 blasts at a time)
    6. Gun shots (could be dangerous to searchers)
    7. Chem lights hung in branches (I carry a couple)
    8. Man made sign along pathways (arrow out of sticks pointing to your location)

    All of the above are cheap and easy to set-up even if you are injured. Having multiples of these around you (think 360 degrees) will ensure a ground pounders walking along will spot you.

    Signaling out-west.
    This is getting out my lane but from what I have been taught is that all the above can be applied for aerial searches but things need to be bigger. Anything marked on the ground that has right angles will stand out. A giant X made from tree branches in an open field, smoke (white or black smoke depending on surroundings) signal panels tied down in an open field, etc.

    Here is a simple signal kit for your pack:
    SAR MEST (5x7 Hi viz orange tarp) or buy a large piece of orange material
    2-3 10 hour chem lights
    Headlamp with strobe function (Extra batteries)
    Pea less whistle
    Flagging tape (orange or other bright color)
    Disposable Hunter Safety Vest

    Hopefully some of SERE or other SAR folks will offer more info. Post up your signaling ideas!! Thanks!
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    Cheap space blankets are much better at signalling than keeping you warm.

    Found aluminum cans can be cut and opened to show a larger brighter surface, then hung from a tree branch.

    FIRE always works.

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    Good subject for a thread. I keep an AMK signal mirror in my junk drawer tin, I can't imagine it would be terribly useful for signaling ground teams but it might be helpful to have.
    recent convert actual user fighter

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    Take your light source put it on a string and swing it in circles above your head.

    Longer the string bigger the marker.

    Very effective, day or night, when smoke a mirror or even a normal strobe wont catch attention of rescue.


    -Also carry a whistle (what if you hurt your eyes and cant see which way to signal with a light or when to start your fire)

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    I have a tail cap on my surefire made by lightsaver that creates a strobe function for it. Very bright and effective. To add to swinging your light source by a cord. I sugget you use your chemlights for this. I can just see breaking your flashlight doing this and putting yourself up that well known creek with no paddle.

    We use chemlights on 550 cord in my Infantry unit, we call it the ripsaw. This will work very well, the motion and the bright and odd colors really stand out doing this. I call them odd colors because red, green and blue lights aren't as common as colors like yard and street lights, etc... Follows the thinking of not blending in to nature or surrounds,really stands out.

    Sportsmans guide, used to sell an emergency strobe that ran off of a single D battery. This case was bright orange and the strobe was very very bright. In addition there was a very strong magnet, a sturdy clip and even a huge safety pin type attachment built in to the body of the strobe to aid in attaching the strobe.

    Great topic!
    Old School 11B3P

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    Good thread but I'm curious about #6.
    6. Gun shots (could be dangerous to searchers)
    Please explain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Willson View Post
    Good thread but I'm curious about #6.
    6. Gun shots (could be dangerous to searchers)
    Please explain.
    3 bursts of sound is a distress call just like the whistle.

    But if you dont know where your rescuers are you better be sure of your backstop

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    Me likee. Good post. I like the geographical seperation. So many differences in where you are as to how to communicate.

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    Great thread. A large orange or red cotton bandana is another good multi use piece of kit to have along. Good for signaling, filtering, char cloth, towel, etc etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BushMetal View Post
    3 bursts of sound is a distress call just like the whistle.

    But if you dont know where your rescuers are you better be sure of your backstop
    I understand the three shots. It's the last part I was wanting explained. That is basic firearm safety. The three whistle blasts could damage the rescuer's hearing too if I blow the whistle in their ear. A signal fire could start a forest fire if I am careless. I'm assuming I became lost, not brain damaged. :-)

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