Emergency Survival Communication – Survival Prepper

Emergency Survival Communication

Survival situations are intense experiences that often hinge on the ability to get help from others. This doesn’t only apply to world-shattering events, but something as simple as getting lost in the woods on a cross-country camping trip. These situations happen to hundreds of people every year, even if they are a skilled outdoorsman. This post isn’t designed to tell you how to survive in every environment, but rather how you can grab someone’s attention without using a traditional form of communication (for whatever reason, let’s assume that there is no access to modern technology).

All but one of the following techniques work best if you have access to the intended piece of equipment. There are creative ways to tackle each one without having access to the optimal conditions. In order to get a deeper view of makeshift solutions, you should definitely run a quick Google search and check out the plethora of information available on the subject.

Emergency Communication Techniques



Mirrors are one of the most effective methods of communicating over a long distance, and they have been around for hundreds of years. Really, any reflective surface can be used, but due to the coating on the back of the glass, it can allow the flash to be seen from miles away.

In order to use a mirror as a signaling technique, you will need to have access to a light source. The most common source of light is the sun, but if it is too cloudy a flashlight can be used to reflect the light over a great distance. In order to target the flash, hold out one arm and spread two fingers in a V shape. Place your target in between the  V, and move the mirror in the other hand until the flash lands in between your two fingers. The reflection of light will glint off your skin if you are too far to one side.

Smoke Signals

Even older than mirrors, smoke signals are one of the most effective forms of communicating distress. Though it is a given, it is necessary to have a fire in order to create a smoke signal. Surprisingly, an open flame is often too hot to allow the optimum level of smoke to escape from green foliage.  While an open flame is great to send off a black signal from burning rubber, not every situation will give you access to this material.

The traditional form of smoke signals comes from smoldering green vegetation over a low burning fire. Ideally, you would want your fire to have just hit the point where it settled from licking flames and embers. This will generate a plume of gray smoke which can instantly draw attention as long as there is not a strong wind.

Whistle Blasts

The best way to do a whistle blast is to use a whistle. Survival whistles are much louder than the level most people can reach unaided. The shrill tone can cut its ways through forests, though the problem is that they often become muffled by background noise and this can reduce your ability to effectively transmit a distress signal. Whistles are best if there is possible help already within earshot.

Environmental Markings

This is a little bit of a proactive way to communicate rather than a reactive one like many of the others. The most popular example of this is a giant SOS written with stones on a beach. While this is a viable option, you can also use deliberate methods to mark your trail. Having a brightly colored cloth (orange or red) can allow you to cut it into strips and tie it to branches as you walk. If anyone is in the area looking for you, they might find one of your strips before they find you. It creates a trail of bread crumbs and allows help to get to you faster.

Most of these tips are geared towards extreme survival situations. In most cases, staying put will be enough to allow a rescuer to find you. The only time you should leave your location in order to try to find help is if there is virtually no chance anyone will find you. Always inform a loved one, because they will be the inciting factor to send help if you do not show up in a timely manner. It generally takes 48 hours before a missing person is investigated so be prepared to wait a couple of days.

Thanks for reading everyone, and we hope you enjoyed another week of the Survival Prepper. In case you had not heard, we are having a Bug Out Bag Give Away. In order to enter, click on the link, fill out your info, and we will choose the winner at the end of January. Have an awesome weekend, and stop in next Monday for another installment of the Survival Prepper.

—Don’t Forget to Subscribe

My name is Steven Capps, and I have a B.A. in English from the American Military University. My writing has been featured in Fiction, The Bird & Dog, Survival Sullivan, The Cass County Star Gazette, and many others. I currently serve as an Infantry Sergeant in the U.S. Army National Guard.