Tag: survival whistle

Simple Survival Signals Can Help Speed a Needs Assessment


Survival signal flare

Wham! Your neighborhood is hit by an emergency! Before you do anything else, you check immediately on your own condition and the condition of the place where you are.

Then, if you are a member of a CERT or NERT team, you set out to check on others and help come up with a Needs Assessment(Our team members, like others, use checklists to record and walkie-talkies to report on how many people have been impacted, who is injured and to what degree, and what’s the status of neighborhood structures.)

The full needs assessment may take quite a while.

  • You and a partner can try to hurry to every single house on the street, interviewing residents and noting damage. But that may be beyond your physical capability.
  • You can try to call everyone on the street. However, even if you know all their phone numbers, that, too, would take a long time — dialing, hearing their story, answering questions, leaving messages, etc. (Besides, in a big emergency the phones may be down or overloaded.)
  • If you had a drone, and knew how to make it function, and it was daytime, you could send it up to view the houses. Of course, you wouldn’t be talking to residents.

Time is of the essence!

Here are three simple survival signals that might speed the needs assessment in your neighborhood.

These signals are in use by various neighborhoods in our Southern California area. Obviously, every region/neighborhood is different. But if one of these makes sense for you, or a version of one makes sense, bring it up with your group. Of course, not one of these will work without NONE of the signals works unless people have been  have come up with different ways to SIGNAL they are OK. All of these “systems” have come into play after group discussion, and they only work if people have been trained to use them in advance of the emergency.

Simple Survival Signal #1: White Towel Over the Mailbox

In closely-spaced neighborhoods like ours, we can stand at one corner and see all the way down the street to the corner. Many residential neighborhood developments around the country are laid out similarly.White towel signals OK

In an emergency, if people would SIGNAL THEY ARE OK by putting a white towel over the mailbox. A quick glance would tell rescuers to head to the next house.  (Note how the white towel in the photo stands out!)

Advantages of the white towel system:

  • Everyone has a white towel or rag or can get one. (White cloths are sold inexpensively in packages, as rags.)
  • Towel won’t be damaged by getting wet or dirty.
  • White towel is visible day or night.

Disadvantage of this system:

  • Won’t work if you don’t have mailboxes or other structure at curb in front of each house.

Simple Survival Signal #2: Red Card, Green Card in the Window

At a recent meeting sponsored by the Earthquake Alliance here in Southern California, we were shown a great printed resource designed to be handed out to everyone in a neighborhood. It’s an oversized tri-fold brochure printed on heavy paper, with all kinds of interesting facts and tips about preparing for disaster.

Two of the panels are signaling devices. One has a big OK in Green. On the reverse is printed a big red HELP! In an emergency you put the appropriate sign up in your window to let first responders/neighbors know what’s what. (The image shows two of the brochures so you can see both red and green panels.)

Emergency Signal SignAdvantages of the colored card system:

  • A sign inside the house won’t get blown away or damaged by weather or vandals.
  • This sign is big enough and heavy enough that it won’t be accidentally tossed.
  • Resident won’t have to go outside to place signal.

Disadvantages of this system:

  • All residents in the neighborhood would need to be provided with the signs (cost).
  • Someone has to design, write and print the signs, which would be different for every region.
  • Window sign is probably only visible from directly in front of the house or window.
  • Probably not visible at night.

The green/red signal doesn’t have to be printed. It could be as simple as two pieces of construction paper, one red and one green. Store them near the front window, of course.

Simple Survival Signal #3: Survival Whistle Calling For Help

Ok, what if you are trapped under fallen debris? You certainly can’t place the red (HELP!) card in the window. And depending on ambient noise, time, etc., you may quickly become exhausted calling for help.

But nearly everyone would be able to use a whistle to signal their need for help – as long as they can get the whistle to their mouth.

The universal signal: three loud, short blasts followed by a pause, and then three more loud, short (3 seconds?) blasts.

Advantages of having a survival whistle:

  • Whistles are small, light-weight and easy to carry – on a key chain, connected to your purse, on a lanyard fastened to your backpack, etc.
  • Whistle can be large, small, colorful or discreet. You can find the style you like.
  • Whistles can be used for other purposes, too – calling kids, scaring away animals, warning drivers, etc.
  • Nearly every whistle I’ve ever seen costs less than $10.

Disadvantages of a survival whistle:

  • A poor quality whistle will NOT serve. A cheap whistle (the kind with a round “pea” inside) can jam. (I have experienced this!) The sound made by cheap whistles can also be too soft. You want 90 to 120 decibels of sound.
  • Super loud whistles may require earplugs.
  • Even though they cost less than $10, buying whistles for a whole group can become expensive.

There are so many whistle choices! I personally have a half-dozen or so different whistles, because I keep seeing ones I want to try! A couple of them are just to fat or ugly to make me feel like carrying them. (I use them for show and tell at our meetings!) But I have found a couple that I really like, and I have them with me all the time. Check out the whistles below for yourself, your family (great little surprise gifts) or your group. Click on the images or the links to go directly to Amazon.

Perfect for EDC — Every Day Carry

I really like this brass whistle! It’s neat, attractive, sleek, reaches 120 decibels.  It’s truly mini — small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. Of course, I’d want to attach it to a key chain or add some sort of lanyard; the gold ring looks sturdy and well made. AND the whistle costs less than $5 as I write this!

Mini Whistle Premium Emergency Whistle by Outmate-H62 Brass Loud Version EDC Tools

Businesslike and flexible

The whistle below comes as a two-pack, with carabiner and lanyard included for a variety of fastening options. Still, it’s not too bulky. This is the loudest of the three examples. Its stainless steel double-tube design can achieve 150 decibels — that sound carries farther, too! Also less than $5 each.

Michael Josh 2PCS Outdoor Loudest Emergency Survival Whistle with Carabiner and Lanyard for Camping Hiking Dog Training (Gold)

Fun and sporty

This third example also comes as a 2-pack. The whistles are dual tube, made of colorful, unbreakable plastic, waterproof. (Plastic doesn’t stick to your lips in the cold, either.) Matching lanyards are also sporty, would attach well to backpack, sports equipment. These whistles might not blend in  so swell with business attire (!), but look great for sporting events, camping, etc.  Loudness: 120 decibels.

HEIMDALL Safety Whistle with Lanyard (2 Pack) for Boating Camping Hiking Hunting Emergency Survival Rescue Signaling

I hope you’ll take a serious look at these simple survival signal ideas, and share them with your neighbors. And let us know how your tests work!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. Of course, you will likely turn to your cellphone as your very FIRST signalling tool in an emergency. Even if the phone does work, it would take a long time to dial up all your family and neighbors. Better? Pre-program your phone so you can send a TEXT MESSAGE all at once to a group, with just the push of a button!  (If the president can do it, we can too.) I’m researching programs for this right now. Do you have any recommendations?