Survival Signal Device: How to use a Signal Mirror

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Whether you are fishing, camping or hiking in the back country, a small mirror can be a lifesaver.

Marine using a Signal Mirror

The U.S. Air Force’s survival handbook describes the signal mirror as “the most underrated signaling device found in the survival kit.” From breaking it apart and using the sharp edges as an emergency cutting tool, to being able to signal rescuers in an emergency situation, this small lightweight piece of gear is an excellent addition to any hiker or hunter’s pack. It can even be used to focus sun rays onto a piece of tinder for starting signal fires.

Using a Signal Mirror

A good signal mirror can be seen for miles, and can help draw attention to your location. In military testing, under idle conditions, they have been seen from as far away as 100 miles.

The technique for using a signal mirror is simple:

  1. Use the signal mirror to reflect sunlight on to a nearby surface.
  2. Slowly raise the mirror up to your eye, while making sure that the reflective surface is not blocked in anyway. Be careful where you place your fingers.
  3. Tilt the mirror up toward the sun, until you see a small bead of light.
  4. Move the light toward your intended target (a plane or search and rescue teams) and wiggle the mirror. Always keep the bead of light in view.
  5. The main idea is to move it around so you get a flashing strobe light effect.

Knowing how to signal for help in the wilderness is an essential survival skill for anyone who spends time outdoors.

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