7 Ways to Signal for Help

Getting lost in the woods or being stranded in the wilderness can fast turn into a life-threatening situation. As such, you would need effective methods of sending a help signal. Distress calls may be sent using primitive or high-tech techniques. All these are important to send a help signal to a search team or distant plane who could save your life. Signaling has long been an under-utilized and emphasized survival skill but has proven to be life-saving for most people who have been in life-threatening situations.

Ways of Sending a Help Signal When Stranded

1. Satellite Phone

Your smartphone may come in handy in making a distress call, but not in all situations. Suppose you’re stranded in the wilderness or deep in the woods where there is no signal to support mobile communication. A mobile phone would be of no use.

In such a situation, a satellite phone could be very helpful. These phones will always give you a signal help whenever you’re in remote places as they rely on satellites for communication. They help you make a call from virtually anywhere in the world.

2. Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

A PLB is a common satellite device that can serve as a “panic button” in the woods or wilderness. It primarily consists of alert buttons which when pressed will send your location’s coordinates to the monitoring company. The company then contacts the local authority who in turn take the necessary actions to reach out to you.

More advanced PLBs allow you to send text or email via satellite. This is helpful especially in communicating to the authorities your exact emergency situation. A PLB would be handy for people who don’t know how to signal for help using ancient methods.

3. Handheld Flares & Flare Guns

Flares provide bright light to send a distress signal to anyone in the vicinity. What’s more, they are great fire starters too. For effective use of a flare, you can tape it to a branch and wave it in the air to send the help signal in a more pronounced way. It is essential to take precaution by not waving the flair directly above your head in case it falls unpredictably.

Flare guns are also an old school signaling method that is still in use and effective. As such, a flare gun is considered an essential survival tool. They help attract more attention since they are fired into the sky where the signal is best seen.

4. Fire and Smoke

Smoke Signal

Wood collected during a camp may not only be useful in providing warmth but also sending a distress signal. Among the visual methods of sending signals in emergency situations, one remains to be the best of all – signal fires.

Fire is especially useful in the wild and can as well be used as a valuable help signal. Apart from the fire signaling, smoke can also be a suitable signal especially on ocean beaches and in the wilderness. Lighting a fire and adding a few wet branches will give a massive cloud of smoke that is visible to any life-saving team.

5. Mirrors

They may be a non-electric signaling method, but it is the furthest reaching method. In wildernesses, where the sun is ever-present during the day, be sure to use a mirror whenever you’re stranded.

When properly aimed, a mirror can shine a ray of light up to 10 miles. They create a flash of light that can catch the attention of an aircraft or even a person on foot. Mirrors with sighting lenses are even more effective for sending the gleam of light to a target.

6. Flags

These have been in use for signaling for thousands of years. You can get a commercially manufactured signal flag or make one yourself. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s made of a brightly-colored garment. Tying this garment to a large stick is a quick way of making a signal flag. You can also lay your flag on the ground to provide a ground-to-air help signal. It is essential to make sure that the flag doesn’t blend with the environment.

7. Flashlight

LED Flashlight

A flashlight is essential whenever you are out hunting or camping in the woods and getting the best hunting flashlight is not an option. A lightweight Vizeri LED Tactical Flashlight which uses a Cree XR-E Q5 LED bulb may do more than light your way. It might get you out of an emergency situation.

Using your hand in front of your flashlight can produce a good help signal that you need help to people in the near vicinity such as search teams. This can only be effective for woods survival, however, when pointed directly towards the path of such people.


Things may turn rough in the woods or wilderness. The tips above will help if you’ve been wondering how to signal for help in the wilderness. Got more ways of sending help signals? Feel free to share them with us.

Written by Ronny

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