Learning now how to signal SOS may save your life later on. More so, by recognizing the signal, you may save other people lives.
The SOS signal was first introduced in Germany on April 1, 1905 and it is commonly referred to as international Morse code distress signal. The SOS distress signal is a continuous sequence of three dots, three dashes, and three dots, without letter spacing (· · · – – – · · ·). The signal is still internationally recognized and over the past century it had saved thousands of lives.
SOS audio signal:
1. Signal SOS using a mirror
You can signal SOS using a mirror or any material that reflects the sunlight. Aimed towards an airplane, a ship or any rescue vehicle will make you more visible. More so reflecting the light three short times, three long times, three short times you will let them know that you are in trouble.
Back in the late 1980s, Joel Slaughter, a 48 year old oral surgeon was in the middle of a two-week raft trip down the Colorado River in Arizona, when his raft got caught in a wave. In the confusion, the rope wrapped around his leg and dragged him across the rocks. Fortunately, his 24-year-old son rushed to him and, at the last moment, cut the rope. But Joel was left with a fractured knee and pelvis and a dislocated hip. He needed medical treatment fast. Fortunately, another member of the team knew how to signal SOS. Ho took a mirror and held it to reflect the sunlight. Using Morse code he spelled out an “SOS” message. Within a few minutes, the pilot of a jet airliner flying 35,000 feet overhead saw the glint of the rafter’s mirror, and realized someone was in trouble below. He called for help, and soon a rescue helicopter arrived to lift the injured Joel to safety [Associated Press].
There are similar real stories of people lost on islands who signaled SOS with a mirror and saved their lives.
2. Signal SOS using a whistle
The International Whistle Code for help is much easier. All you have to do to signal SOS is to blow the whistle three times. Two blasts of the whistle is a call-back signal which means “Come here.” One blast can mean “Where are you?” or it can be a call-back signal if you hear anything that sounds like a code. [Outdoorlife]
3. Signal SOS using fire
Especially at night you can signal SOS using a fire. Build three fires in a triangle or in a straight line, with about 100 feet between them. Three fires are an internationally recognized distress signal. [Wilderness Survival Skills]
At daytime you can signal SOS using smoke. But not all fires produce the volume of smoke you need to create an effective signal, and not all fires will necessarily be interpreted as a call for help. After having started the fire throw in it some green wood and leaves to make more smoke. Also, choose the highest possible location. Wind and breeze will make the smoke move away from you, there will still be a trail back.
4. Signal SOS using sand or stones
Sand or any friable soil can be written in. Or you can use stones if there are enough. Use your feet or scrape the sand to a depth of about 4 inches (10cm) and about 2 inches (5 cm) wide so they soil or sand cannot fill itself in and make the SOS distress signal. Sand is good to write in if it is wet. A good time to use it is after the tide has gone back out. You will have twelve hours before your signal got washed away by the rising water.
Using rocks, you can write SOS or signal SOS by building three gigantic X marks in the shape of a triangle.
5. Signal SOS using a flashlight or your mobile phone
Obviously you can signal SOS using flashlights. If you have a target you are attempting to signal, flash out SOS in Morse (three short flashes, three long flashes, three short flashes) in its direction. If you don’t have a flashlight use your mobile phone. That of course, assuming that you don’t have signal to make calls.
6. Signal SOS using a torch
If you don’t have a flashlight but you managed to built a fire you can signal SOS at night using a torch. Find something to cover the light of the torch from the angle of the targeted plane, ship or helicopter. Move the object that covers the light to signal SOS.
7. Blue and red flashing lights
Flashing blue and red color usually mean there has been an accident or someone needs rescue. Usually these lights are activated by police or firemen. If you don’t have the means to build a fire, use some of your clothes to make a flag. A waving blue-red flag can be seen from a very high altitude and you can be easily spotted.
8. Signal SOS using parts of your body
If you have absolutely nothing to signal SOS, think about the parts of your body you can use. Wave your arms and hands sideways and down to attract attention. If the potential rescue vehicle is close, simply stand with your hands and arms in the air. Ensure you are in a big a clearing.
You can also use your eyes (blinking) to signal SOS. During the Vietnam war a prisoner was able to communicate without alerting his captors by blinking his eyes in Morse code (Jeremiah Denton Jnr). Yes, and there are at least 3 more documented real stories of people who were kidnapped and threatened with death in case they said something to the police. They blinked their way out of the trouble.
9. Signal SOS using orange smoke
On some ships, orange smoke is released from the stack if the ship is in trouble. Special fuel is burned to produce the orange color and it can easily be seen on the horizon. You can either learn how to make a color smoke bomb or you can simply buy an orange smoke flare. Orange color is very visible in every season and environment.
10. Signal SOS by tapping
If you find yourself in a confined space for any reason (kidnapped, trapped, buried alive, etc.) you can tap the SOS Morse code against a wall or the inside of a car trunk. Your chances of someone finding you, without alerting the kidnapers for example, slightly increase.
Flashlight and audio SOS signal: