What Is The International Emergency Signal For Distress



Signaling for help is an important skill to learn no matter who you are, as it’s impossible to predict when you might be faced with an emergency situation.

What Is The International Emergency Signal For Distress

If you’re wondering what the international emergency signal for distress is, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I will cover what the international emergency signal for distress is. So, if you’re ever faced with an emergency, you’re well equipped.

Let’s get into it.

Knowing what to do in an emergency is important, especially helpful when you are traveling in a group and on your own in an unfamiliar or particularly dangerous environment.

A distress signal is an essential piece of knowledge when you are lost or are in danger in the wild.

You never know when you’ll be faced with a dangerous emergency, and learning the international emergency signal for distress could be what helps to get you out of a life threatening situation.

Accidents happen and when you’re faced with a life-threatening situation, you need a way to signal that you are in distress to anyone nearby. So, how do you let others know that something is wrong?

What Is The International Emergency Signal For Distress?

The international emergency signal for distress is three of the following signals. This can include three blasts of a whistle, shots that are evenly spaced, or three flashes that are produced with a mirror. 

You can use these signals to alert other people that there is an emergency or danger nearby.

How Else Can You Show That You’re In Distress?

If you are stuck in an open space, make a large X in the sand, grass, or snow that is visible and can be seen from the air. However, it isn’t enough just to walk it in the sand. The sign needs to be big and bold to ensure that you have the best chance of being rescued. 

To do this, you will need to look for rocks, branches, or logs that can make your sign stand out. 

Make sure they are at least two feet long and as wide as possible.

If you are stranded, you can also try making a smoke signal by lighting some kindling. It should take about 10 minutes to burn down.

Tips For Building A Signal Fire

Don’t Light The Fire Too Soon

You should note that you shouldn’t light a signal fire until you can actually hear an aircraft in the distance.

This is especially true if you don’t have very much wood available to you, as biding your time and waiting for the appropriate moment is essential to your survival.

Make Use Of The Wood Around You

Certain woods are better at creating smoke than others. For instance, adding pine to the fire will help to create a good amount of smoke to help you get spotted in your time of need.

Use Leaves To Help Create Smoke

To produce a great deal of smoke, you will need to add a lot of vegetation to the fire.

In addition to this, if you need to light a fire at night, then it’s less about smoke and more about creating large, visible flames to help you get spotted. Smoke isn’t easily seen at night, so this is why it’s much better to focus on making a big fire rather than a smoky one.

A Note On Personal Locator Beacons

Personal locator beacons are also known as PLBs. These devices are small transmitters that emit an emergency distress signal to a monitored satellite system. 

They are used by hikers and campers who want to stay safe while they hike through remote areas.

They are also a highly effective and useful piece of kit for those who travel alone, and can provide you with reassurance when you’re traveling off the beaten track.

If you decide to purchase a Personal Locator Beacon, you will need to make sure that you register it with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Importance Of Learning Distress Signals

 As I’ve mentioned above, I can’t stress the importance of learning these distress signals.

Learning them now means that you won’t be caught unaware when you find yourself in a dangerous situation.

When you learn these signals, you will be able to act quickly in order to save your life.

Many people, including trained rescue teams, are familiar with these signals and will know that someone is in trouble in the area when you carry them out.

What Is The International Emergency Signal For Distress 1

You can’t underestimate how helpful these signals can be for people to pinpoint your location. Once they spot or hear your signal, they will be able to find your exact location or general area to find you and give you the aid that you require.

Even people that aren’t aware of them will be able to recognize a repeating pattern, drawing attention to you should you find yourself unfortunate enough to be in a life threatening situation.

A Note On Survival 

When you are in a life or death situation, your first instinct might be to panic. While this is natural, once the initial panic subsides, you need to focus your energy on being found.

If you are not found, you could die from exposure before anyone finds you. That being said, you need to channel all of your energy into being found, and using the signals in this article to help your cause.

Remain calm, and follow the steps as you would anything else. If you panic, you could end up being at a higher risk of losing energy at a quicker rate, and it’s essential that you conserve as much as you can.

This is especially true if you have limited food supplies and water.

Once you are found, you’ll need to follow the instructions given to you by the rescue team.


The international emergency signal for distress is three of any signal.

I hope this article has given you a better understanding of what the international emergency signal for distress is, and how to use it in case of an emergency.

Stay safe out there!

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