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.
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!