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Whistles Signals – Is it Any Important Item in Your Backpack List?

Did you ever get stuck while hiking without knowing about the area which you are and doesn’t know to which direction you should head to?

Sometimes you might have been totally lost!!! 

Confidence is the only thing which helps you get the best out of you, and you will wing it right during the time of planning your trip so that the trip would be clear enough.

Have you ever thought of getting injured while hiking? 

What if both injured and lost?

This is a common situation which can happen while being in the woods. Even a poor climatic condition can lose your way. When this happens, instead of getting panic, try to make a help signal which can notify someone and rescue you.   

Don’t worry! Even if you are lost or stranded, there are many tiny tools which you can carry with you to sort out these kinds of critical situations. You can’t shout all the time and get help, or sometimes even your voice will get carried away by the wind.

Only if you have the right survival device that could make a loud noise, the situation can be cleared. It should be a specialized tool that could very well break through the wilderness in which you are and notify someone that you are in danger.

Some of the top ways in which you can signal for help while being lost in the middle of the woods may include distress flares, smoke, and fire, personal locator beacons, whistle, flashlights. There is no reason to keep a survival whistle in your backpack. This is yet another essential tool which is light in weight, small and takes up no space.

Now lets us take a walk through the various emergency signals in detail and their importance in hiking.

Importance of a Distress Signal

The distress call also referred to as a distress signal is the best rescue whistle that is accepted internationally for getting help. This is considered as an internationally audible or as a visual signal which is aimed at gathering the attention of others if you or your gang is in distress or need some help. This international distress signal is communicated to others by the transmission of some radio signals.

This will be in the form of illumination or exhibiting an item which is visually observable or making some kind of audible sounds from a certain distance. This is purely depended on groups, say three or six.

For instance, in the case of a whistle distress signal, it would be 3 mounds of stone or 3 fires.  In the same way, bursting three whistles or flashing three lights in a minute and repeating the same will indicate such an emergency signal. On the other hand, in the Alps as well as in the United Kingdom, these kinds of signals are made of 6 instead of 3 repeated short signals. 

Survival Whistles  

Communication is one of the most important elements for surviving in an emergency situation. The type of threatening you are facing and the scenario you are in doesn’t really matters. If you can’t signal others regarding the same, the situation may turn bad and unmanageable. Certainly, there are lots of communication techniques which can be used - right from the two-way radios to the emergency smoke signals – all of which are having their own merits and demerits.

However, the simplest and the most useful among all the signals is the survival whistle. Such a well made whistle will be light in weight, durable, highly reliable and above all very loud and so is considered as a ‘must have’ emergency tool in every backpacker's pack.

On the other hand, a survival whistle is an equipment which is most of the times under-rated by a few and is normally overlooked by those hikers who considered it as an unnecessary item as they are having many other sophisticated forms of communicating devices within their emergency kit.

Some of the internationally recognized signal codes which are used for signaling may include:

Where are you? – 1 blast

Call back – 2 blasts

Distress Call – 3 blasts

Remember that the duration of every blast should be three seconds, and there should be a gap of a few seconds between every blast. Repeat the signal whenever required, maintaining a frequency between every signal. 

Whistle signals and Its Importance While Hiking

The distress signal is recognized as an international emergency signal for distress and is mainly used for drawing the attention of other hikers or for intimating others during the time of need.

These kinds of survival whistles do not require any power source and can be carried with you all the times, either kept inside your pocket or fixed to the belt or hang around your neck while hiking.

The only thing required is the skill to blow the whistle, and in this way, you can effectively communicate your situations to others.

During the time of a natural disaster, the loud sound of a whistle can be well heard beyond all the noisy chaos.

For example, if you are an unfortunate soul who gets under a building which is collapsed due to an earthquake while you hike around.

The sharp and shrill sound which is transmitted continuously from the blown survival whistle will be heard louder than your cry, and above all, you don’t need much energy for blowing the whistle as well.

What is an Emergency Signal for the Protection of Child?

The advantages offered by a whistle are not just limited to emergency as well as survival situations. It can also be used for raising the alarm and catching the attention of the other passengers if anything unusual like robbery or attacking happens.

When a child blows a whistle loudly during an unsafe atmosphere, it helps to deter the stranger’s crooked advances, and this will help the child to get help at that instant itself.

If you are taking children along with you for hiking, then these kinds of whistles will help them stay safe. Before starting the trip, ensure that they are having the whistle with them and know well regarding when and how to blow it.

What is the International Emergency Signal for Distress?

Being alone or stranded in the woods is a massive problem. It would turn out to be more challenging if there is no way to communicate or get help from someone or you don’t have ways to intimate your needs to others.

Flailing your arms is considered to be a great sign of distress since it would not be visible during night hours or over much distances. Let’s imagine that you are in a stranded place and you are searching the skies for the rescue planes. You have seen one.

But the question is that, will you be able to draw its attention to you?

Or the pilot will be crossing you without knowing that you are down their desperately waiting for help.

There is no point in depending on cell phones lines and GPS signals as they may break. Of course, this is not a movie. This can often happen while being in the wilderness. Even if you are an experienced hiker, you may face such situations where you may find yourself helpless.

This is where the need for knowing all the emergency signals plays its role. With the right usage of resources and tools, you will be able to notify others for help. Even if you are stuck in a jungle or an island, these emergency or distress signals would be of great help for the rescue.

The two vital parameters which should be communicated for getting help may include:

  • Location or the exact position of the person in distress
  • Notification or sending an alert of the distress in progress

Things To Consider While Selecting a Survival Whistle?

Most of the emergency signals or the whistle signals do the same thing. They make a loud noise. Some of them will be having little extra gimmicks which are being fixed to them such as a flashlight or a compass or something like that.

This might look like a striking proposition. However, the focus should always be on the action; meaning how well the whistle helps you to rescue and not what else the whistle can do.


The louder, the better the help you obtain. Make sure that you get a whistle which has got high pitched sound that can well penetrate through the woods.


You should keep an emergency whistle which can make sound mentioned like above but with only minimal effort. It would be not worth if you need to use both your full lungs of air for blowing the whistle in case of an emergency. Think of a situation in which you are injured and is not able to blow fully!!! This is where you need a whistle which requires less effort to produce a loud sound.


It is not a big deal if the whistle sounds good and breaks even when it falls for the first time from your hands. Just like you, your whistle will be out in all climactic condition, and hence you should get one which can be used in all freezing temperatures, resistant to water, extreme heat and in the sunshine.

The material with which the whistle is made is having a big role in your decision-making process and hence should be chosen wisely.

Majority of the hikers consider those whistles which are made out of metal as the most durable one. However, they will help in sticking to your lips while in climactic cold conditions and can burn them while in the hot weather while the plastics ones are more prone to get damaged during the extreme climactic conditions.

Before buying a model, decide on the location which you are planning for hiking and then settle on the type of whistle which is best suited for that location’s climatic condition. It is always a good idea to buy different models of whistles if you are a regular hiker.


Choose a whistle which will never let you down during the needy hours, and for the same reason, a hiker should never consider buying a whistle with a pea.

Those emergency whistles which are having pea or any other kind of moving parts are more prone to get dirt, and the moisture content will minimize the overall effectiveness of it, thus ending up in malfunctioning.

Size and Weight

This is yet another factor which should be considered. Yeah! It’s true that the whistles are not too big, but choose the one which can fit correctly inside your pockets. Nor, there are cases in which you feel that some models are too heavy and that you need to exclude them from the list of your potential choices!

Foot Note!!!

With these notes, the importance and the usage of emergency signals must be stored in your memory banks. Just to reiterate, in Europe and the United Kingdom, it is six short bursts, followed by a short gap and again repeat for alerting others regarding an emergency while in some other locations, it is three short bursts, followed by a short gap and repeat for calling out for help.

While you are out hiking in the woods, keep in mind that safety comes first, and hence you should always make sure that you carry the right preventative measures and tools in your backpack. On the other hand, no matter how much you get ready with, at times accidents can happen.

Choose those emergency whistles which are light in weight and are highly durable so that you can fix them to your key chains or hang it around your neck.

A good and best survival whistle is made with the intention to send out a loud blast during the time of an emergency without much effort.

Also, make sure that you know how to make the best use out of the tools which you have in your backpack while in a bad situation. Happy hiking!

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