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Wilderness Emergency Communication Gear

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We like to think we’ll always be prepared for any situation and never need any help from communication survival gear. Unfortunately, even the most experienced outdoorsman will tell you that unexpected situations can leave you stranded and helpless. Hopefully you’ve read our Basic Emergency Survival Kit blog, so you know how to survive on your own out there. The next step is figuring out how to escape your situation and get back home safe and sound.

Cell phone

If you have a cell phone and are in an area that has service, then you’ll be safe in no time. You should be able to call 911 and hang tight until help arrives. In this day and age, cell phones are easily accessible, and you should always bring one with you.

However, when you’re deep in the wilderness it’s common that you’ll have no reception at all, which brings us to our next item…


Satellite Phone or Personal Locator Beacon

These would be items that you only have in case of emergency. If your cell phone dies or doesn’t have coverage, these are the next best thing. The satellite phone obviously works off of satellites in order to place a call. Meanwhile, a Personal Locator Beacon sends a signal to whatever company you bought it from.

Take one, or both, with you if you’re worried about being too far away civilization. The extra cost may be worth it if you’re stranded and in desperate need of medical attention.

Flare Gun

Once your position has been determined and help is on the way, they still need to find you. A flare gun will send a projectile into the sky that lights up to signal to others your exact position. It’s a piece of communication survival gear that uses sight instead of words to show others where you are.

Make sure to keep this in a waterproof container so you can use it when you need it the most. However, it is a bit bulky so as an alternative you can use this next item…

Fire and Smoke

You can create this signal almost anywhere, and the fire will be useful for other reasons as well. You can use it to cook any meals you forage, or to scare away predators.

Please be careful about how you maintain the fire however – you wouldn’t want to start a forest fire and damage the environment. Make sure the fire never gets bigger than you can control, and never leave it unattended. Otherwise you’ll need more help than you did at the beginning.

The smoke from the fire rises high up into the air so search and rescue teams can find you. Pack a fire starter into your emergency kit to make the process as simple as possible.


You can use a whistle to scare away any animals that are intrigued by your presence. The loud, shrill, noise is perfect for letting animals know you’re there. It’s also great for letting search and rescue teams know where you are. You might even get the attention of other explorers and they’ll be able to bring you back to your camp.

Use Morse code to spell out SOS to let people know that you require assistance. To spell SOS in Morse code is 3 dots, 3 dashes, and 3 dots. For your whistle this means three short blows, three long blows, and then three more short blows. Otherwise, people might assume that you’re just messing around or they might not recognize you need help.

Survival Gear View


If for some reason you damage or lose any of the previous tools, you can use a handheld mirror. The mirror by itself is pretty useless, but during the day you can reflect the sun. The mirror will amplify the brightness of the sun and reflect it from your position. If people are looking for you then they will recognize that a bright flash of light coming from ground level.

Just like with the whistle, you can also use the mirror to signal people in helicopters or planes via Morse code. The glint of the mirror will attract their attention and if you signal a code (like SOS) then they’ll know that it’s not just a random act of nature.


Sometimes you won’t be able to stay in the same spot. You could be moving to search for better locations or looking for civilization on your own. In this case, you can use flags to signal where you’ve been and where you’re going.
If you didn’t bring any flags, you can use brightly colored clothes for the same effect. Just rip your clothes into sizable chunks and tie them to trees or tent poles to signal what you need to.

You can also lay the flags on the ground for ground-to-air signalling. They’ll need to be big enough for it to work though, so if you only have small items don’t bother with this tactic.


Finally, you can use your flashlight to signal for help as well. You should always have a flashlight if you’re going to be away for more than a few days. The flashlight is going to be most useful for signalling at night when the light is most noticeable.

During the day, you can signal passing aircraft with the previously mentioned SOS method with Morse code. Three short flashes of light, three long flashes, then three short flashes will let everyone know that you need help.

We hope you’ve memorized the Morse code by now as you can see it’s useful for many situations!

Final Notes for Communication Survival Gear

Now that you’ve reached the end, we hope you never need to use any of these communication survival gear suggestions. However if you do, you’ll be prepared after reading our blog post and you’ll be home in time for dinner!

Please check out our Camping Advice for Beginners post to make sure you’re fully prepared for your first trip and don’t end up needing rescue!