The different ways of sending a help signal when stranded

No good prepper would go into the woods without first packing some method of calling for help if SHTF. If you get lost or stranded in the wilderness, you might think that your first priority should be trying to find food, water or shelter, but in case of emergencies, what you really need is a way to send a distress signal, so that you can get back to civilization as soon as possible. Here are some of the different ways you can call for help when SHTF. (h/t to

Mobile phones

The simplest way to call for help is to make a call from your cell phone. As long as you can make contact with someone who can get help, they can send out a search party to look for you. The only downside to this method is that it requires your cell phone to have enough battery life and reception. However, even without service, your cell phone can still be used to call for help. Most cell phones nowadays come with a flashlight feature. You can use this to flash a distress signal that can easily be seen during nighttime. During the daytime, you can use your cell phone’s glass screen to reflect sunlight in a similar manner.

Satellite phones

Satellite phones are a more foolproof solution over regular cell phones. They don’t rely on reception from cell phone towers to work, meaning that you can use them to make calls wherever you are.

Signal mirrors

You can technically use any reflective mirror to flash a distress signal, but survival signalling mirrors are best suited for this purpose, since these often come with a sighting hole or lens. As long as you have enough sunlight and the ability to properly angle a beam of light, you can shine a ray of light that can be seen from as far as 10 miles away.

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You can shine a flashlight in the dark, just as you would with a signal mirror during the day. Simply aim the beam of light in the direction of potential rescuers or anyone in the vicinity. If you know Morse code, you can even flash a message at anyone who might see it. (Related: Here’s why you should carry a tactical flashlight, and tips on how to use it.)

Handheld flares and flare guns

Flares are excellent ways to allow yourself to be seen from far away. They can also double as great fire starters. However, flares don’t stay lit for very long, so it is best to use them sparingly. Flare guns attract more attention easily since they are fired into the sky.

Fire and smoke

Regular campfires are already useful for providing warmth, light, and protection. You can find even greater use for them as a means of signalling for help. Gather some wet branches and other materials that don’t burn easily. During the day, you can throw these into your fire to create a thick pillar of smoke. If it is nighttime, throw in some dry wood and plenty of quick-burning fuel to create a bright and easily visible flame.


People have been using flags as a signalling method for thousands of years. If you can’t buy a commercially manufactured signal flag, you can still easily make your own. Just be sure that the material you use is a brightly colored cloth or garment, so that it can easily stand out from your environment. Simply tie the cloth to a long pole or stick to create your own makeshift flag.

Signal whistles

In areas with low visibility, you can rely on sound to make your presence known.

Find more tips on how to survive in the wilderness by going to

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