53 votes
Accepted

How do you aim a signal mirror?

How I've practiced is I hold my left hand palm out, and I create a "V" between my ring and middle fingers with the plane or person between my fingers. I then hold the mirror by my face and shine the ...
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  • 590
30 votes

What format should I use to report my location to emergency responders?

I'd give them whatever my device or map provided me, and let them convert to whatever their devices or maps use. Anyone used to receiving lat/lon coordinates regularly should be able to convert from ...
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  • 21.3k
26 votes

How do you aim a signal mirror?

A modern (Korean War era and later, at least) signal mirror has a hole in the center, and the hole is surrounded by a grid of retroreflectors. You aim the mirror spot at something close by, then look ...
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21 votes
Accepted

Optimal use of available GPS devices when stranded

If you're not using the device to find your way, it is useless as far as the GPS functionality is concerned, no matter whether it's switched on or off. If I know they are looking for me, would they ...
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19 votes

How do you aim a signal mirror?

This answer applies only to signal mirrors which are two-sided and have an aiming hole in the middle, which should be the case with any good signal mirror. My answer will partially duplicate a prior, ...
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  • 5,158
18 votes
Accepted

Is there a Polish mountain rescue organisation?

There is a great Mountain Rescue in Poland, called GOPR ("Górskie Ochotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe" - "Mountain Volunteer Search and Rescue"). They cover all the mountain regions of Poland and in case ...
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  • 890
18 votes
Accepted

How do you wave off a search and rescue helicopter?

Charles Brumbaugh's answer is correct if a helicopter rescue is underway and you need to warn an approaching helicopter that it should abort the approach due to some problem you have spotted. (From ...
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  • 5,862
15 votes

How do you aim a signal mirror?

Your signal mirror is likely polished on both sides, with a hole in the middle to help you aim it. Although the principle is simple, it's fiddly and takes a little practice. With the mirror in ...
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  • 4,348
15 votes
Accepted

What format should I use to report my location to emergency responders?

I would recommend UTM coordinates; it avoids the formatting uncertainty of lat/long and is better suited for ground operations. (Easy to translate to paper maps, define search areas, and calculate ...
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  • 8,358
15 votes

Transition to "Starvation Mode" in Survival Situations

I think that list is talking about immediate priorities, that is, what you must focus on first to stay alive in a survival situation, not whether food is necessary. From Backcountry Chronicles, the ...
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  • 2,805
13 votes
Accepted

Do I need to worry about inadvertently creating a distress signal while using a space tarp?

This seems unlikely—simply facing something orange to the sky doesn't get automatically detected as a request for assistance. In general, if someone isn't searching for you, no one is going to be ...
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12 votes
Accepted

What to do if your friends hiking group is overdue?

I don't think the specifics of this question can be meaningfully answered without knowing more. However, the general reasoning behind whom/when to call if people overshoot their expected arrival time ...
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10 votes

Optimal use of available GPS devices when stranded

Use the GPS to determine your position and then text or email that to your rescuers. That will be the end of the GPS's contribution to the rescue process. Staying put is generally best (saves your ...
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  • 11.7k
9 votes
Accepted

Are there standardized signals to communicate with aircraft?

International standard and very easy to remember is the Y or N signal. If you want to communicate more than that, your signals should be easy and self-explaining. If you are e.g. climbing and it's ...
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  • 12.1k
9 votes

What format should I use to report my location to emergency responders?

Always have a water proof map of the area you're traveling in ( one with coordinates on each side if you can help it ), and a compass you can use to triangulate your position with. You'll be better ...
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9 votes

How often are missing people found?

From this article which is pulling statistics from *"Dead Men Walking: Search and Rescue in U.S. National Parks", Wilderness & Environmental Medicine (Volume 20, Number 3), 2009. ...
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8 votes

To activate PLB if you know search and rescure are looking for you but there is no emergency?

The PLB is very much for highlighting to the emergency services that you are in an emergency situation and need a rescue. It can incur significant costs as the services are called out but gives a ...
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  • 24.4k
8 votes

How do you wave off a search and rescue helicopter?

There used to be an article on the homepage of the Austrian mountain rescue service concerning behaviour during helicopter rescues, originally published in Berg und Steigen 3/02 (a professional ...
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  • 1,239
7 votes

What format should I use to report my location to emergency responders?

In the marine environment, it's often a little easier if you reference a known location. Offshore, you want to use lat/lon coordinates for sure. But if you're a mile from the coast (or less), it's a ...
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  • 2,138
7 votes

What should go in the hiking/backpacking plan that you leave with someone else?

The purpose of the plan is to help rescuers find you. So include: your planned route - this could just be a photocopy of a map with a route drawn on in marker, or "the blah blah trail". identifying ...
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  • 11.7k
7 votes
Accepted

What ever happened to the proposals for no-rescue zones for backpackers?

It looks like it was most commonly proposed in the 1980s to around 1994 and has since been brought up at different times by different people but was never implemented. Here are the results I found ...
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7 votes

How often are missing people found?

It's impossible to give a clear answer to this. There are a few factors to consider: Who is "lost"? You may be able to find data on the number of people who are called in as missing, and where some ...
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  • 171
7 votes

Transition to "Starvation Mode" in Survival Situations

is there any evidence to suggest that de-prioritizing food increases survival Anyone who has ever prioritized food and died of any of the other issues would be evidence that de-prioritizing food ...
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  • 3,436
7 votes

Why isn't carrying a satellite phone considered best practice for hiking/mountaineering in remote regions?

There is one thing to bear in mind about making safety equipment mandatory and that is the effect of risk compensation. Basically it means whenever you make something safer, a certain group of people ...
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  • 6,135
6 votes

How do you aim a signal mirror?

The sun isn't a laser, so you don't actually have to be very accurate. The further away your target is, the less accurate you have to be as the reflection will spread.
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6 votes

What should go in the hiking/backpacking plan that you leave with someone else?

To expand on an earlier answer, and what the OP himself mentions, I will add a few more elements. First, the count of persons on the trip. The rescuers need to know when they are done. If they've ...
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  • 5,158
6 votes

What ever happened to the proposals for no-rescue zones for backpackers?

There are lots of good reasons to reject such proposals, and these would have stopped them being implemented. Some examples: Deliberate injury - would the emergency services attend if someone was ...
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  • 22.5k
6 votes

To activate PLB if you know search and rescure are looking for you but there is no emergency?

If you are overdue, and the search party know you have a PLB, the fact that they have not received an alert from it suggests either you are merely delayed, and will turn up soon, or you are so ...
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  • 4,348
6 votes

Why isn't carrying a satellite phone considered best practice for hiking/mountaineering in remote regions?

You can take a satellite phone if you want. But you can also decide to take the risk to go without one. Satellite phones cannot prevent all kinds of accidents, just like any technical equipment cannot ...
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  • 1,542
6 votes

What to do if your friends hiking group is overdue?

This is something that should be discussed before a trip, together with the people who go on the trip. Ultimately they are the most affected, and they need to make a decision under which conditions ...
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  • 61

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