How to Attract Attention when You Need Rescuing

There are numerous ways to attract attention when you’re lost at sea, stranded on an island or cliffs lost.  Here are some suggestions.Image titled Attract Attention when You Need Rescuing Step 1

Use body signals. Body signals can be used when you have no other resources at hand to signal with and where you’re still in good condition to move around, etc. It’s fairly straightforward, as follows:
  • Be sure to perform this when you see rescue craft or rescuers.
  • Stand upright and wave your arms to the side and down. Pause and repeat. Keep doing until you believe you’re spotted.
  • Raise your arms into the air above your head if you want to be picked up.
  • Squat down with your arms forward indicating a landing spot for a rescue aircraft.
  • Hold arms straight out to indicate that you need mechanical assistance.
  • Lie down to indicate the need for a doctor.
  • Accompany this with noise if appropriate but don’t tire yourself unnecessarily.
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Write on the ground. A large message written on the ground can be spotted by a pilot or other rescuers flying overhead. Another benefit to this method is that you can conserve energy once it is made, as well as leaving an area to search around while the message still works for you.
  • Find a clear patch of ground. It should be as level as possible.
  • Clear the area of any objects that might interfere with the message, such as rocks, branches, etc.
  • Make the message. If it’s sand, use a large branch to draw in the sand. If it’s land, use rocks, branches, or other items that can be gathered to make letters.
  • Ensure that the message is large. An easy and recognizable sign is to write SOS. If you know ground-to-air signs for needing a doctor, medical equipment, or food and water, use these as well.
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Use mirrors. If you have a mirror, you can use it to create a flash. This can signal a long way and can be especially effective from a high location such as a mountain.
  • Hold the mirror at eye level. Point the mirror toward the sun to catch the rays.
  • Choose the target you want the flash to signal to.
  • Hold your free arm out at full length. Place the free hand between the mirror and the intended target. Face your palm toward you and hold your fingers slightly apart to enable you to catch sight of the target through these parted fingers.
  • Tilt the mirror until the reflected light hits a point of your hand through which you are able to see the target.
  • Lower your hand. While keeping the mirror still, look for the light flashing right at the target.
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Use Morse code. Morse code is useful because it is an internationally recognized signaling system.  Read How to use Morse code to signal for help 

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Repeat signaling once rescuers are clearly in your vicinity. Make it clear where a rescue helicopter or plane can land, if relevant.
  • Stand clear of obstacles that could prevent rescuers from landing, or reaching you by boat, foot, car, etc. If rescuers can hear you, warn of obstacles or dangers by voice.