Survival Skill #12
Sending Up a Survival Signal
At times—like when you have a debilitating injury—your only hope for getting saved is to maximize your visibility so rescuers can find you. Two methods, if used properly, will guarantee that, if someone’s looking, they’ll see you.
The first is a signal fire—and the first rule is to put it out in the open for visibility. That means hilltops or clearings in a forest where nothing, like a cliff face or trees, will disperse the smoke. Create a platform to raise the base of the fire off the ground so moisture doesn’t saturate the wood. Save your absolute best combustible material for your signal fire to guarantee a quick light. Once the fire is lit, pile on green branches, like pine boughs in winter, to produce thick smoke. “It’s not about warmth, it’s about 15 seconds of smoke,” Stewart notes. “That’s about all you’ve got when you hear a plane before it’s out of sight.”
The second is a mirror signal. A flash from signal mirror—even at night, by moonlight—can be seen for miles, much farther than any flashlight. You don’t need a store-bought signal mirror to be effective. Improvise with any reflective surface you’ve got, from rearview mirrors or headlights to a cell phone screen. Aiming the reflection is the key, and it’s simple. Hold out a peace sign and place your target--be it plane or boat--between your fingers. Then flash the reflection back and forth across your fingers.