Signaling and Getting Found!

Discussion in 'Other Skills' started by Panzer, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    We spend a lot of time talking about survival and all the tips, tricks and kit that’s needed for survival. Heck even the TV reality/drama shows focus on the aspect of surviving. But one thing I don’t 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 can’t 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 someone’s attention. Not always easy.

    Some simple methods:
    1. Orange hunting vest hung in a tree
    2. Surveyor’s 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!
     
  2. R_W

    R_W Guide

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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.
     
  3. Suspectdevice

    Suspectdevice Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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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.
     
  4. BushMetal

    BushMetal Banned Member Banned

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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)
     
  5. JOttum

    JOttum Scout

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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!
     
  6. Joe Willson

    Joe Willson Guide

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

    BushMetal Banned Member Banned

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    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
     
  8. madmax

    madmax Bushmaster

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

    AlexD Supporter Supporter

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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.
     
  10. Joe Willson

    Joe Willson Guide

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    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. :)
     
  11. BushMetal

    BushMetal Banned Member Banned

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    I agree that is basic firearm safety


    But when lost for a few days with out food or water people can make poor decisions as if they were brain damaged.

    You hear something, jump up and blast 3 rounds off to make sure its not too late but oops..

    that kind of thing
     
  12. Howie

    Howie Guide Bushclass III

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    Something Ive kicked around as a video project was actually fillming the seeable/hearable distance for all kinds of signals. everything from the red bandana tied out to signal mirrows hill top to hill top, Whistles, ect.

    could make for an interesting colaboration of sorts of whats really seeable at what distances, from the air might be tricky, unless someones got a chopper, but hey could be a fun and lots of learning series
     
  13. Pawoodsman

    Pawoodsman Guide

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    I have a acr rescue beacon a little bigger than a cell phone gives wife peace of mind also have a good whistle and my mirror on my compass doubles as a signal mirror
     
  14. TerBear

    TerBear Scout

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    Good idea for a thread. Just got a Vector 1 signal mirror as part of a Christmas present to myself. Already had whistle, yellow and red bandanas. My family also have bright orange tube tents in their bags. Been thinking about a strobe light, but have to do some research on which to get. Any suggestions?
     
  15. Fiddlehead

    Fiddlehead Scout

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    I made a bandana out of 3M 10 mile cloth (Blaze Orange) and carry it in my pack. It doesn't weigh much or take any room. I always carry a Storm Whistle (in Orange) as well. It's the loudest I have found. I have read many stories about people being found because they were wearing some Blaze Orange hat or clothing.

    View attachment 62667
     
  16. steene

    steene Scout

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    I sometimes carry a piece of pvc electrical conduit (1") ~10.5" long in my gear. The flared end works best. I can play this like a horn and because there are two diameters it plays 2 different tones. It is my opinion that the tone of the horn carries for a greater distance than a whistle. (I still carry a whistle)

    3/4", 1",1 1/2", even 2" will work. The greater the diameter the lower the tone and the longer the piece must be for good tone. Start with a longer piece and trim ~1/2" off until your satisfied with the sound. And yes you can take too much off. PVC is cheap.
     
  17. foxfire

    foxfire Supporter Supporter

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    I have a signal mirror, fox whistle, signal panel, small 3" chem light's along with 6" one's, signal flare's (aerial ). Flashlight, headlamp. And I have carried a red golf flag since I was a kid. ( it mysteriously appeared in my backyard pole in all) :14:

    Another item to think about is a dye marker, which when spread out on snow signals great from the air. Even better you can just use jello packets, which also can use as a warm drink.

    Great thread Panzer thanks for starting it.
     
  18. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    I have been wanting to do that too Howie! There is so much info and but not always real world applications to prove theory. Ground to air signals are a big one.
     
  19. Radio Matty

    Radio Matty Tracker

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    Signal Mirror at Distance

    Here's what a signal mirror flashing looks like from a distance the submitter claims is "22 miles away". (To see this, you'll have to turn on the HD and go fullscreen- at that kind of distance it is kinda faint) Keep in mind that with a larger mirror and from a shorter distance, that flash would have to be bigger and brighter. I'll try and find a better vid to demonstrate this.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0_5P1qPFsk
     
  20. Radio Matty

    Radio Matty Tracker

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    Like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwCbgQGmID4
    The author says the distances here are 0.7, 11.1, and 43 miles! And I've heard that st sea, a mirror can easily be seen from as many as 50 miles away. Could anyone with any Navy/Coast Guard training verify that?
     
  21. book

    book Tracker

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    It used to be that on western mt. fires, one of the best ways to signal a helicopter as to your position was throw dirt into the air. The dirt would fall back down but the dust from the dirt would remain in the air and form a dust drift cloud that was easily seen because of the movement. It was a darker color than smoke and would give the pilot an indication of wind speed and direction.
     
  22. Joe Willson

    Joe Willson Guide

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    Is there any evidence that in the entire history of people getting lost and being looked for that this has ever happened?
     
  23. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    The initial comment about safety it just that safety. It's a reminder that if you are going to fire off a gun in an emergency situation to be aware that there might be folks looking for you and they could happen to be in harms way if you don't exercise good judgement. That is all. Nothing more or less. Keep it on track.

    thanks
     
  24. BushMetal

    BushMetal Banned Member Banned

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    rescuers have been shot by rescuee yes
     
  25. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    I have worked with guys who have been shot at by land owners. :) Searching can be dangerous that's for sure. :)
     
  26. Mr.Black

    Mr.Black WILDEROXEN Tracker Pack #1 Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass Instructor

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    There is alot I want to do on this I will try to get some pics ASAP of some radios, flares, mirrors,VS-17 sig pannels,signal tarps,Buzzsaws and improvised stuff Ive done
    Till then Check this Out This Guy is a former SERE Specialist and this vid is a real eye opener and might make us re think a few things I will get back soon with some pics

    Great thread

    [video=youtube;0bC4bOA9Lbc]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bC4bOA9Lbc&list=PL1213FDEA736B7F62&index= 3[/video]
     
  27. Mr.Black

    Mr.Black WILDEROXEN Tracker Pack #1 Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass Instructor

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    Thoughts.
    -Someone has to do a demo on using orange drank powder in the snow thats a good'n
    -the flaming spitting dragon lol
    -"Aim the mirror center of air craft not the cockpit and my face" yelled the CAP pilot over the walkie as I signaled him from a ridge on San Gorgonio
    - I have no idea how the Sea Dye Marker made it into the fountain Sir... OMG!...
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
  28. Das_Sheep

    Das_Sheep Tracker

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    Bring extra bacon. The smell of bacon carries very far, and potential rescuers are more likely to be motivated to find you once they smell delicious fire roasted bacon.


    But on a serious note, those space blanket tarps with orange on one side and silver on other are pretty good. Or like, a GPS beacon. Or GPS...bacon.
     
  29. Crafter

    Crafter Scout

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  30. DPris

    DPris Scout

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    I have an ACR PL beacon, a GLASS military-grade signal mirror, and a couple serious strobes (Streamlight & ACR), besides a decent small but bright LED flashlight, that go along.
    Passengers in the ATV are checked out on the PLB in case anything happens to me.

    Fire starting materials are always toted. Whistle.
    Frequently a blaze orange handkerchief or watch cap.
    Cell phone that's charged (frequently works in higher elevations out here in the West, but can't be entirely counted on).

    Kids are given basic equipment & taught how to build fires, and some basic rules such as staying put unless they're absolutely sure where they are & how to get to a road where they can run into other people.
    Denis
     
  31. WoodsDevil

    WoodsDevil Scout Bushclass I

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    Great ideas. I remembered a disused hunting vest in my drawer and stuffed it in my trail kit. Thanks for the tip!

    - WD
     
  32. TimberWolf

    TimberWolf Tracker

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    Something to consider is the foliage around you at different times of the year. Yellow, orange and red will show up well from a distance when you are surrounded by green trees/grass. But, yellow, orange and red are going to blend in like camouflage during the fall in areas where the trees are mostly deciduous. Bright blue will not show up on a green background from a distance (blue and green are too close on the color palette), but bright blue in the fall will stand out better than the yellow, orange and red. Of course, any bright color will stand out on white snow. But a dark colored spruce forest in the winter will absorb most of the color palette, making almost any color harder to see. Bright silver (i.e. a space blanket) is generally going to be the best all around signal, as long as the sun is shining. Contrast is the key. Don't rely on any one "emergency" color for all seasons/areas. The desert will almost always have a bright sun, but don't bank on it being there. Plan ahead for the situation you'll most likely encounter.
     
  33. acara

    acara Scout

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    10-50 mi, with the record supposedly being 105mi ...... fact or fiction ... I dunno, but it's what they were putting out when I was in.

    I've personally had a crew member signal us at 5 miles out, but unless it's perfect conditions, optimal gear (double glass mirrors) and the operator knows what they are doing; the flash can be missed in the scatter off the water/waves.
     
  34. adkwalker

    adkwalker Supporter Supporter

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    Don't forget that the searchers will have dogs so bacon on the fire while I blow my whistle and swing my chem light
     
  35. Joe Willson

    Joe Willson Guide

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    If you have bacon, why do you want rescued?
     
  36. BushMetal

    BushMetal Banned Member Banned

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    To get more bacon of course!
     
  37. Ron

    Ron Guide

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    Orange vest with reflectors - check
    whistlke - check
    lights for signalling - check
    means to light a fire and cause smoke - check
    cellphone - check
    people knowing where I am - check

    And these I carry with me standard
     
  38. RoadLessTraveled

    RoadLessTraveled Guide Bushclass I

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    Mors Kochanski discusses the signaling mirror

    [video=youtube;DZA-AEzptfY]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZA-AEzptfY[/video]

    [video=youtube;t9KbyBQ71z8]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9KbyBQ71z8[/video]

    And a US Government Training Film:
    [video=youtube;vmnRrCVBaP0]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmnRrCVBaP0[/video]
     
  39. MtnNomad

    MtnNomad Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    In the SAR team each team member had a Identifier cut into there boot. So if they are off grid they are easier to track down. Easy to do in the boot heel. A tracker can identity who the track is.
    We have found 2 people by there tread track.
     
  40. Ravensway

    Ravensway Tracker

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    Mirror Signaling

    My friend 'Mountain' Mel Deweese is a retired SERE trainer. He has tested many methods of signalling and has found the signal mirror to work best. A mirror aimed between two fingers works well and can be recognized from miles away to searchers. Shine and tilt 3 times to indicate you are in need of rescue. Three of anything is universal distress signal (3 gun blasts, 3 fires, 3 whistles, etc.)
     
  41. Goose

    Goose Guide

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    A big thing with signalling is not so much bright colors, but contrast to your environment. A bright colored cloth is going to be more difficult to see in a lighter environment(i.e. fall and winter), than opposed to a summer environment. By using natural materials, even the untrained eye will be able to notice something different in the environment.

    Examples-
    Laying dark logs in the shape of an arrow in a field of tan grass
    Overturning sand to expose the dark damp sand beneath(could potentially dry quickly in the sunlight though)
    Digging out snow down to the darker grass on the side of a hill

    That is just a few random examples, but you get the picture.

    It also helps to break the vertical plane of the environment. Typically the majority of the forest is vertical lines i.e. trees, grasses, etc. By breaking the vertical plane with something horizontal, someone can notice this and see a difference in the environment hopefully influencing them to investigate and possibly finding your ass. One example could be to stick some logs in the forks of two trees to create horizontal line. Do that about 6 times across an area and you'd have a pretty big discrepancy in the forest. Humans are instinctively curious, especially SAR personal. The weirder it looks, the higher chance someone will see it.

    Sometimes you need to just get creative!
     
  42. Timex

    Timex Scout

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    Plus One for the Signal Mirror

    While recovering an elk that was down in a canyon, I used a signal mirror to contact and link up with our hunters. Not a survival situation, but we made it out before dark with no issues. However, it was a sunny day and the weather was favorable.
     
  43. Ralph

    Ralph Scout

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    For a bandana any color that is different from the place you are shold work. Lime Green, Orange are colors that arten't normal in any outdoor environment I can think of; Blue and red would also be less normal; If I was to choose I would go Lime (neon) Green or Hunters Orange then Blue (a neon or weird blue) then red only because I think the first two stand out in ANY eco-system. I am thinking of making a hammock out of two Tablecloths sewn together; one a color that would blend in the woods the other Orange to I could signal with it.

    I would also want a noise making devise or five!

    Reflective material; mirror; spaceblanket; shoot TINFOIL.
     
  44. Code Red

    Code Red Supporter Supporter

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    After going on some hikes with a group of people and spending some time looking for stragglers, I am a big fan of whistles and "passive" bright colors.

    By "passive" I mean something that you don't have to deploy. I have started carrying a bright orange pack, and just ordered another pack in that color. Last time we went looking for stragglers, we saw the guy in the bright yellow shirt ten minutes before we saw the guy walking next to him in more neutral colors.

    If you are incapacitated or mentally affected by injury, dehydration, or just freaking out, then a passive item of clothing or gear that is hi-viz may solve the problem for you without depending on your ability to make good decisions.

    I am no expert by any measure, but I think that many of us think about emergency situations in terms of what we would do if we were at 100% mentally. The discussion above regarding gunshots is a good example. There are a lot of precautions and solutions that are automatic, or obvious to me now because I am warm, well fed, hydrated, uninjured, and not panicky. But what if some or all of those things were affecting my judgment? What if I am standing there watching my child bleed out in the snow? Or just hypothermic and disoriented? Am I going to be thinking as clearly as when I respond on an internet forum?

    Lately there has been a lot of discussion about the man and two kids who died in the rain after going out for a hike. I don't think that this guy was the gold plated idiot that he is portrayed to be. At least not when he left the lodge. But after his body temperature dropped and he couldn't think straight anymore, then he became disoriented and it got his family killed. I don't think it was the cold and the rain that killed that family. I think it was the mental degradation that comes along with hypothermia. I read one story recently that said he walked past the lodge thirty minutes before he stopped, and that he turned down a ride. If you have never experienced the mental effects of hypothermia, thirst, or sleep deprivation, its an eye opener. Simple, obvious things aren't simple and obvious anymore. You will miss things that are right in front of you, and sometimes see things that are not really there. You may not even know you are in trouble.

    The guy we found in the yellow shirt was lost, bleeding, and walking the wrong way when his companion found him. He didn't know he was in trouble yet. He wasn't calling for help or trying to signal. That yellow shirt saved him a cold rainy night on the mountain.

    I am a hermit and used to dress in earth tones and try to avoid people when I was out hiking. I go out there to get away from it all. But after a few trips where we had to look for someone, I now appreciate that being visible goes a long way towards keeping you safe.
     
  45. Ralph

    Ralph Scout

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    Code Red

    You make a good point; I have never been hypothermic to "the point of stupid" but have been cold enough to know that the thinking slows and I could have an attack of stupid. I have been dehydrated to the point of having to think hard to make good choices. I and my family took a hike one day that we planned for an hour-hour and a half; three hours later we found the road. I still had to get back to the car. I was going to do what I had to do which was walk the road back to the car; having only a slight idea of how to get there from where we were. Put my family and dog back inthe bush and took off. Thank the Good Lord a car came by as I walked and offered a ride. Still not a good day and I know the feeling of stupid that dehydration can cause! Had we gotten worse; depolying a bandana or space blanket or whatever whould have been hard!
     
  46. Tristar777

    Tristar777 Tracker

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    Hi. I slept out last weekend and the temperature dropped to minus 2 degrees. I decided to see how well Id be able to use the items in my survival tin, so I stuck my hands only out in the cold for about ten to fifteen mins and then started to open the kit.
    First I had a problem just getting the tape off that was around the tin to seal the lid. My fine motor skills had really decreased. Eventually I got in the tin and I decided to try lighting a fire with what I had, ferro rod and striker. It took me 20 mins and alot of swearing until I managed to do this.
    Anyway, the conclusion for me was that anythig used for an emergency should where possible be able to be used with fine motor skills compromised. Signaling equipment too must come under this heading too!
     

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