1. SIGNALING DEVICES. The equipment listed below are items that may be on your body or inside an aircraft. Generally, these items are used as signaling devices while on the move. They must be accessible for use at a moment's notice. Additionally, in a summer mountainous environment, Marines may experience areas that are snow covered and must be familiar with the effects that snow will have on specific signaling devices.

a. Pyrotechnics. Pyrotechnics include star clusters and smoke grenades. When using smoke grenades in snow pack, some form of floatation must be used. Without floatation, the smoke grenade will sink into the snow pack and the snow will absorb all smoke. Rocket parachute flares and hand flares have been sighted as far away as

35 miles, with an average of 10 miles. Pyrotechnic flares are effective at night, but during daylight their effectiveness is reduced by 90 percent.

b. M-186 Pen Flare. The M-186 Pen Flare is a signaling device carried in the vest of crew chiefs and pilots. Remember to cock the gun prior to screwing in the flare.

c. Strobe Light. A strobe light is generally carried in the flight vests of all crew chiefs and pilots. It can be used at night for signaling. Care must be taken at night, because a pilot using goggles may not be able to distinguish a flashing strobe from hostile fire. Therefore, an I.R. cap should be used when possible.

d. Flashlight. By using flashlights, a Morse code message can be sent. An SOS distress call consists of sending three dots, three dashes, and three dots. Keep repeating this signal.

e. Whistle. The whistle is used in conjunction with the audio international distress signal. It is used to communicate with forces on the ground.

f. AN/PRC-90 & AN/PRC-112. The AN/ PRC 90 survival radio is a part of the aviator's survival vest. The AN/PRC-112 will eventually replace the AN/PRC-90 . Both radios can transmit either tone (beacon) or voice. Frequency for both is 282.8 for voice, and 243.0 for beacon. Both of these frequencies are on the UHF Band.

g. Day/Night Flare. The day/night flare is a good peacetime survival signal. The flare is for night signaling while the smoke is for day. The older version flare is identified by a red cap with three nubbins while the new generation has three rings around the body for identification during darkness. The flare burns for approximately 20 second while the smoke burns for approximately 60 seconds.

NOTE. Once one end is used up, douse in water to cool and save the other end for future use.

h. Signal Mirror. A mirror or any shiny object can be used as a signaling device. It can be used as many times as needed. Mirror signals have been detected as far away as 45 miles and from as high as 16,000', although the average detection distance is 5 miles. It can be concentrated in one area, making it secure from enemy observation. A mirror is the best signaling device for a survivor, but it is only as effective as its user. Learn how to use one now, before you find yourself in a survival situation.

(1) Military signal mirrors have instructions on the back showing how to use it. It should be kept covered to prevent accidental flashing that may be seen by the enemy.

(2) Any shiny metallic object can be substituted for a signal mirror.

(3) Haze, ground fog, or a mirage may make it hard for a pilot to spot signals from a flashing object. So, if possible, get to the highest point in your area when flashing. If you can't determine the aircraft's location, flash your signal in the direction of the aircraft noise.


a. Audio. Signaling by means of sound may be good, but it does have some limitations:

(1) It has limited range unless you use a device that will significantly project the sound.

(2) It may be hard to pinpoint one's location due to echoes or wind.

(3) International Distress Signal. (MSVX.02.18a) The survivor will make six blasts in one minute, returned by three blasts in one minute by the rescuer.

b. Visual. Visual signals are generally better than audio signals. They will pinpoint your location and can been seen at greater distances under good weather conditions.

(1) The visual international distress symbol is recognized by a series of three evenly spaced improvised signaling devices. (MSVX.02.18b)

3. IMPROVISED SIGNALING DEVICES. (MSVX.2.6c). Improvised signaling devices are generally static in nature. They must be placed in a position to be seen by rescuers. They are made from any resources available, whether natural or man-made.

a. Smoke Generator. The smoke generator is an excellent improvised signaling device. It gives the survivor the flexibility to signal in either day or night conditions. This type of signal has been sighted as far away as 12 miles, with an average distance of 8 miles. Smoke signals are most effective in calm wind conditions or open terrain, but effectiveness is reduced with wind speeds above 10 knots. Build them as soon as time and the situation permits, and protect them until needed.

(1) Construct your fire in a natural clearing or along the edge of streams (or make a clearing). Signal fires under dense foliage will not be seen from the air.

(2) Find two logs, 6 - 10 inches in diameter, and approximately five feet long. Place the two logs parallel to each other with 3 - 4 feet spacing.

(3) Gather enough sticks, approximately two inches in diameter and four feet long, to lay across the first two logs. This serves as a platform for the fire.

(4) Gather enough completely dry branches to build a pyramid fire. The pyramid fire should be 4 feet by 4 feet by 2 feet high.

(5) Place your tinder under the platform.

(6) Gather enough pine bough to lay on top of the pyramid fire. Ensure that you leave a small opening at the bottom, allowing access to the tinder. This will allow you to light the tinder without removing the pine bough.

(7) To light, ignite the tinder through the opening at the bottom. If available, construct a torch to speed up the lighting process, especially for multiple fires.

(8) To create a smoke effect during the day light hours, place the pine bough on the ignited fire.

(9) Placing a smoke grenade or colored flare under the platform will change the color of the smoke generated. Remember, you want the fire to draw in the colored smoke which will create a smoke color that contrasts with the back ground will increase the chances of success.

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