Signaling for Help in an Emergency – Brandon Garrett

Signaling for Help in an Emergency

Imagine you are driving across the country and your car breaks down in the middle of the drive. What are you going to do? If you’re prepared and know how to signal for help, you can create signs and signal aircrafts for help. Most people know the SOS sign, but here are other things that emergency personal will recognize as messages.

Three Fires
Building three separate fires is an international signal for distress. Ideally, they should be placed in a triangle at equal distances. However, if you are injured or fuel isn’t available, you might only be able to build one fire which is a great start to signaling for help.

Many people have even built small rafts that they build fires on. This allows them to float their three-fire triangle in the middle of a lake or in a river where a passing aircraft is more likely to see them.

Single Fires
Smoking fires are a great way to signal for help from long distances. Be sure to set up your fire in a visible location so that people can see the flames or smoke before they dissipate. Typically, planes will fly from a high ridge to a low one

Ground-to-Air Codes
There are a few symbols that you can use to signify that you are in need. Typically, you’ll want to make these large and as noticeable as possible – usually a color that is contrasted with its surroundings.

Serious Injury, Evacuation Required Am Proceeding in This Direction
Need Medical Supplies Probably Safe to Land Here
Unable to Move Require Food and Water

Body Signaling
There are a series of signals that pilots and other airmen will understand and use. Make all of these signals in a clear and exaggerated manner.

Need Medical Attention Do Not Attempt to Land Here
Land Here (Indicate Direction) Affirmative
Pick Us Up Here Negative

If the pilot understands the message, he or she will continue flying the plane and tipping the wings in a rocking motion from side to side. If the pilot did not understand, they will begin flying the plane in a right-handed circle. At night time, the plane will either flash a green (affirmative) or red (negative) light to communicate.

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