Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Personal Survival Kit - Part Two - Reflective Devices for Creating Emergency Signals

There are five major components of creating an emergency signal in a survival situation. The first three components involve sight, sound and movement. These are the basics that are involved in any effective means of communication, regardless of your current situation. If you can’t be seen, heard or draw their attention to your area, chances are nobody is going to find you unless it is totally by accident. They would almost literally have to stumble upon you in order to find you or determine your location. The other two major components deal with the time of day or night you are creating your emergency signal. Emergency signals at night will often be different from those that you would use during the day.

Creating daytime emergency signals gives you a lot of options as long as you remember to use sight, sound and movement. One of the easiest and most effective means of creating a daytime signal is to use a reflective material or surface. When considering items to include in your personal survival kit, you can use several different options to increase your options for an effective daytime emergency signal. Having a reflective surface of some sort can involve using a number of different items. Many of these items can be carried quite easily on your person and won’t necessarily need to be included in your PSK (Personal Survival Kit). This will leave room for other emergency items in your kit.

One of the most effective items for creating an emergency signal in the daytime is a signal mirror. These can be ready-made devices or ones that have been improvised from most any type of reflective material or object. It could be as simple as a piece of aluminum foil (which can be easily kept on your person - folded in your pocket or wallet), a CD, an old aluminum can that someone carelessly discarded or is sitting in the cup holder of your vehicle, a piece of reflective Mylar or any other item that that has some ability to reflect light. The quality of your signal will be affected by the type of item you are using. Regardless of this fact, you are still communicating some type of signal to enhance your chances of survival.  You can always opt to carry a signal mirror on a lanyard around your neck to free up space in your PSK.

Depending upon your circumstances, you may have more reflective surface options readily available than you realize. The majority of people usually travel in their cars in more instances than they do on foot. This in itself gives you a large number of available reflective devices that could be used in an emergency. Most vehicles have small vanity mirrors on the sun visors that could be utilized. All vehicles have inside and outside rear view mirrors that could be utilized along with any shiny chrome or chrome-plated items of trim, or any “shiny” object you can find, etc. Even the scope of your rifle could be utilized to create an emergency signal. You could actually create a number of reflective signals to further enhance your signal’s ability to get someone’s attention. Women have a slight edge over guys in this department as most already carry a make-up compact that usually has a great little mirror included.

Knowing more about your available options to create an emergency signal will make it easier for you to carry less gear.

You can read additional information here:

Got shiny surfaces for survival?

Staying above the water line!



Anonymous said...

I remember reading one of Ron Paul's knife books, which mentioned he kept the concave blood groove in one of his knife blades highly polished to act as a signal mirror. Another possible resource that cost very little and takes no space.

I have several signal mirrors, but have never attempted to practice with them - I should change that.

BigBear said...

A loud whistle and one of those neon orange trash bags used by the highway crews are also helpful. If I were to lay down in the sage out here in jeans and a grey hooded sweatshirt I would blend right in. Virtually impossible for a rescue person to find me. That's why I carry the orange trash bag in my 72 hour kit.

Gunshots are another really good way to attract attention.

Anonymous said...

Heck, as dry as it is in Texas, start a fire and wait for the LEOs to descend to give you a ticket for violating the burn ban . . .

BigBear, that was a great tip about using color to gain attention, a blaze orange trashbag should be great for that.

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 6:47

I have a five inch fixed blade that has a mirror finish which gives off a pretty good reflection and works as a backup to my signal mirror. I carry the knife on my belt rather than to have a small folder in my PSK. The trick is to keep it clean and polished (wood ashes work great as a polish material).

Thanks anon.


riverwalker said...

To: Big Bear

Orange safety vests, surveyor's tape (which comes in numerous bright, orange, green etc.) or brightly colored bandannas work well also.

If you wear a watch you can also keep the backside of the watch body well polished and this can be used as a very effective reflective device as well.

Thanks Big Bear!


riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 6:48

If you start a fire in Texas right now, you could wind up with a whole different set of problems. You might be better off to stay lost a little bit longer!lol



Survival kit said...

If you think you may get lost somewhere out in the middle of nowhere and be unable to get to civilization with ease, these supplies will come in handy. First for all the way back to your Boy or Girl Scout days and always carry a compass with you. No matter what trouble you get into, knowing in which direction you are heading is a very helpful piece of information. Next you may want to consider purchasing a fire starter bar. If you're stuck somewhere cold, a fire starter bar is much easier than rubbing two sticks together. Finally, just for the sake of extended protection, you can buy a fully adult-sized rain poncho to keep yourself dry in bad weather.

riverwalker said...

To: Survival Kit

If you get lost in the "boonies", a compass can be a real life saver.



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