Basic Survival Skills – Signalling and Communication

Basic Survival Skills
Survival Signalling And Communication 

sos signal in the sand

In a disaster situation where you actually WANT to be rescued, your signalling and communication skills need to be much higher up on your list of survival priorities.

In fact these skills rank around number 4, even before food, as a means of being rescued needs to be set up very quickly.

However, when preparing for actual survival of a doomsday scenario, getting noticed would rank much lower down the list of basic survival skills that you need to learn.

When the SHFT one of the main survival elements is to lay low and ride out the aftereffects un-noticed.

Going unnoticed is one of the key prepping objectives in the early stages of a major disaster, especially if the situation has required you to effect a permanent bug out, away from the looting and unrest and potentially highly dangerous people who need food and water at all costs.

For a prepper your signalling and communication skills will generally be restricted to your family and close prepper network friends.

Pre arranged signalling between family is needed to ensure your safety and communication between other preppers is a means of knowing the bigger picture and exchanging notes on the state of the disaster you are all in.

As usual, these must be prepared way in advance – practiced and understood between all parties, and any equipment needed must be stored away in the bug out bags.

Basic methods of signalling.

  • Hand signals
  • Whistle
  • Flags

Signalling over a distance

  • Mirror
  • Fire
  • Flares
  • Glow Sticks

You can also break down signalling methods into manageable pieces:

For example, some signalling requires you physically do something, like make a hand gesture – this is generally known as ACTIVE SIGNALLING.

hand signals

Other methods like forming an SOS sign
on a beach or with rocks is considered to be

Remember, we are dealing with a preppers method to signalling here – requiring a more covert approach over the usual ‘look everyone, I’m over her’, ‘come and get me scenario.

Hand signals are by far the most effective methods of signalling as they are noiseless and relatively simple. There downside is both parties have to be within eyesight of each other and know what each signal means.

But you really only need to know a few hand signals to get by. They can be the same as the textbooks or even make your own up – but get something done so you can communicate silently with your family if you are in danger.

Survival Whistle

An essential item to carry in any outdoor situation as it is very light and compact, has next to no moving parts that can go wrong.

The loud shrill is also more than enough to get attention if needed.

You can also control the volume of a whistle quite easily with a little practice making this a good way of communicating.

A good things about a whistle is they are cheap to buy – the one shown here is less than £5


Using a flag method is another excellent preppers signalling method.

They don’t need to be a huge flag either – just a small bit of cloth will do:
At their basic level, red would equal danger.

You can also use material of different shapes to indicate different messages.
eg: a square white could mean ‘left’ and a triangle white equal ‘right’.

They can be used to guide you back to camp – or for complete signalling theres always the internationally recognised signalling method of Semaphore.

More info here: Historical Signals and Semaphores here:

Survival Mirror

Mirror signalling is good for short and long distance communication and require relatively little sunlight to produce good results.

Again the beauty to us preppers, of a mirror for signalling, is size and weight, but even more importantly, completely silent.

Easily fitting in you bug out equipment or even in your pocket.

At worse any old reflective surface will do (the end of a can, some broken glass) the inside of your SURVIVAL TIN is also a very good makeshift signalling mirror. 

You can also get highly polished reflective survival signalling mirrors that incorporate all the modern features you would ever need for this type of signalling. 

Specific signalling mirrors come with a targeting device in the center making them perfect for pinpoint signal accuracy. They are also very tough and some even float.!

For a good quality signalling mirror (like the one shown below) you can expect to pay anything up to a maximum of £60

This particular signalling mirror is very good quality kit and good value for money at £14.

As with the whole survival and signalling system, you do not need to know a complete list of all the exact signalling codes, but a few will definitely help you to communicate better.
Focus in on the essential signals - SOS, Help etc

Fires, Flares & Glow Sticks

Fires, Flares and Glow-sticks are a lot less covert than the other methods mentioned here so far, but need to be included for pure positioning and location reasons.

A fire can be a bad idea if you are trying to stay concealed and requires a lot of skill to hide the smoke it gives off.

Smoke can be seen for miles and will lead anyone straight to your camp along with the use of glow sticks, these should be avoided if you want to stay unnoticed - but for emergency signalling and location they are ideal.

Flares only really serve one purpose – to indicate a position of an emergency or pick up point – in a rescue situation they are ok, but not really for bug out or covert situations.

So far we have been concentrating on the basic methods of communication in a bug out, SHTF scenario. 
All will work in varying degrees and depend on your particular situation as to what method is used.

Hand signals are silent but require eye contact between yourself and one other.
Flags, mirrors and glow sticks required visual contact to work correctly. Although the glow sticks method could be used to lay down a trail to a particular meet point.

All the above are good solid methods and will work.

Walkie Talkie

However, when it comes to 'one to one' communication, I feel that one of the best methods is using two way radio communication between each other.

It still has drawbacks though - distance being the main issue, especially if in a dense environment.

But generally, for good direct communication, the two way radio or walkie talkie is an ideal choice.

Walkie Talkies are also quite cheap to buy and offer great value for money to us preppers.
There specification are also very good with thing like battery life - the Binatone Latitude 100 shown above have a 70hr battery life and runs on three AAA batteries.

If you use rechargeable batteries and a solar charger your good to go for unlimited communications.

The walkie talkie can still have its drawbacks though and always work best with a clear line of sight.
Distance can therefore be an issue, especially if in a dense woodland or urban environment.

Buy in pairs or go for the sets of four units will ensure all members of the family can communicate.

The twin pack costs around £20 and the set of four around £50 - so this makes this type of essential kit very affordable to us preppers.

Being able to stay in touch with your family or fellow preppers in a survival situation is paramount.
With the various methods available it's important to have at least one in your bug out bag.

Happy Prepping Folks.


Steve Hart UK Preppers Guide

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    • RadioRob on December 6, 2017 at 4:03 pm
    • Reply

    Best buy I have found is the Baofeng UV5 the high power version kicks out 8w VHF and 7w UHF under £40. Covers PMR, 2m & 70CM Ham radio, Marine VHF plus Air band to name a few. Also consider getting your ” Foundation “Ham license its really easy lasts a life time and with 10w HF in reasonable conditions working Australia is possible. Plus you would be surprised how many preepers you work on air.73s

    • Happyhacker on February 5, 2017 at 5:19 pm
    • Reply

    A cheap Walkie Talkie is useless in hilly or distance situations. Get a 4W pair costing say £100 and keep them charges and set to talk.

    • jackie r on February 1, 2017 at 11:11 am
    • Reply

    hi, i have been a prepper for about 9 months now, i have found this newsletter very helpful, but can anyone tell me how to actually get into uk preppers online, ive registered ,but it won’t let me enter, i’m definately looking into several things suggested here, good luck all preppers.

    • Malcolm Rowe on October 24, 2016 at 6:29 am
    • Reply

    Here’s a small tip I found on youtube for people using walkie talkie’s to improve the range of the deivce, it’s called counterpoise.

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