Tips for Sending SOS

You have a bigger chance of surviving during an SHTF event when you know multiple effective ways to signal for help. Distress signals can make all the difference and they take many forms, high-tech modern electronics to the primitive techniques and materials that our ancestors would have used

Whether you’re trapped in a cave or you’re trying to help find other survivors, knowing how to use and detect these signals is important. Take a look at some of them:

Your Cell Phone

This is obviously one’s first ticket to rescue during an everyday emergency, provided that there is an available service or signal. Your call for help can be made to specific people and different information can be conveyed.Β 

Communication through SMS only requires weak connectivity to a nearby tower. If you’ll be spending time somewhere without signal, consider buying a satellite phone which will let you make a call from anywhere on earth!

Sharpie Marker

A permanent marker gives you the ability to write and make marks on any dry surface. In case you are lost, a marker and a little survey tape will indicate trails you can use to prevent further wandering and for rescuers to find you easily.Β 


You can signal SOS using a mirror or any material that reflects light. Aiming it towards an airplane, a ship, or any rescue vehicle. A cry for help is signaled through three short reflections, three long ones, and another three short ones.

During the 1980s, Joel Slaughter, an oral surgeon, got his raft caught in a wave and he was dragged across the rocks. Thankfully, his son rushed to him and cut the rope. But Joel was left with fractured knees and pelvis. Another member of the team knew how to signal SOS.

He took a mirror, held it to reflect the sunlight, and spelled out SOS in Morse code. The pilot of a jet airliner saw the glint of the mirror and realized someone was in trouble, so he called for help and a rescue helicopter soon came.

Personal Alert Beacons

Personal alert beacons like medical alerts, rape alerts, and many more can be very helpful, but only if the unit is activated and the signal reaches a signal tower. These innovative panic buttons are made for people to enjoy their life knowing they can be protected in case of an unforeseen event.Β 

The downside of these gadgets include improper activation which results in summoning expensive help unnecessarily, subscription fees, and sometimes not being able to receive help from the other side.

Flashlight, Laser Pointers, or Torch

You can also signal SOS using flashlights. Just flash out the same SOS in Morse code with three short flashes, three long ones, and three more short flashes toward the direction of your target. Mobile phones can also do this in case you don’t have a signal.

If you don’t have any flashlight with you, try to build a fire in which you can signal SOS at night. Find something to cover the light of the torch from the angle of the targeted plane, ship, or helicopter. Do the same Morse code method to spell out SOS.


The whistle is a great piece of signal gear for short-range audible signaling. Three blasts universally mean a signal for distress. Use brightly colored whistles which are easy to spot if dropped. Those with attached lanyards, rings, or clips are better to prevent loss.Β 


Pealess whistles are the best choice for when you’re in a cold place since your spit can freeze the little ball inside and the whistle will temporarily lose function.

Whistles are the best selection to give your kids on outings since they are easy to use. Teach them to blow it in blasts of three and to stay in one spot until help arrives in case they get separated from you.Β 

Flare Guns

One of the most common signal methods on watercraft is the flare gun which can garner a lot of attention from aircraft and search parties on the ground. However, you need to consider the wildfire in your location. Many flares are still burning when they hit the ground danger, so you need to be careful not to cause one especially when it lands in your area.

To stay safe, relegate the flare guns to wetland areas and the open water.Β 

Silent SOS Signal for a Kidnap Victim

In the case of a kidnapping incident, the victim should summon help without alerting the kidnapper. This can be done by outstretching one’s hand toward her chest, as in β€œcome here”, or intertwine their fingers and clasp their hands together in a pleading/praying position. A frantic facial expression also helps.

For greater distances, however, the victim should slowly raise and lower her outstretched arms repeatedly, with the hands describing a large circle. This distress signal is internationally known, but it is not as recognized as other survival options.Β 

Other Distress Signals

  • Campers send three puffs of smoke or lay out markers in a triangle to signal a search plane.
  • Hunters fire three gunshots to ask for help.
  • A hiker slowly and repeatedly raises and lowers outstretched arms with arms describing a large circle.
  • Airplane pilots and other radio callers use a β€œMayday! Mayday! Mayday!” distress signal. It’s more distinctive vocally for a spoken radio message/
  • Mountain climbers use six long whistle blasts or light flashes, repeated at one-minute intervals.

Enhance Your Survival by Learning these Signals

Don’t ever think you won’t be needing to learn how to signal SOS thinking you’ll always be safe. Remember that the worst disasters happen unexpectedly, whether you’re in the jungle, an elevator, or even at home.Β 

By knowing these signals, you can also be able to save other people’s lives! You will learn to be more sensitive to your surroundings and be proactive in helping individuals in a survival situation.

We hope this list of different SOS signals help you enhance your survival when SHTF, but we also hope there won’t be a time you’ll ever have to seek help!

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