Author Topic: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH  (Read 1401 times)

Offline bcksknr

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Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« on: December 05, 2012, 09:47:32 AM »
I was wondering if there are any thoughts on rescue/signalling devices for BOBs/GBHs? Because I've done a fair amount of wilderness canoeing, I have included a signal whistle, signal mirror, pkg. of red ariel flares, and an orange smoke device in my bag. This just seemed natural to me when I was setting it up. I was going through the bag yesterday and realized that it seems in most situations, you wouldn't want to call attention to your location. Your probably not hoping for a SAR team. What do you think? Should I ditch this stuff to save a little weight or would the ability to signal for help be an asset?

Offline fred.greek

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2012, 10:01:51 AM »
Probably better to have, and be able to discard later if appropriate, then to WANT to attract the search team, and not have them.
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Offline flippydidit

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2012, 10:08:44 AM »
Making your own smoke devices is probably a good idea.  They can be used to signal, or to mask your movements in a gunfight.  Make sure to follow proven recipes and do it safely.  You should also check the laws that apply to your area.
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Offline Crazy Fox

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2012, 10:09:09 AM »
I agree with fred.greek, better to have the gear and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Of course, these items aren't just limited to drawing search and rescue to yourself. For example, whistles can also be used for simple communication between two people when smoke, fog, or distance limit visibility. A couple quick whistle blasts can indicate to your partner that you've found a missing person/water source/road/ or whatever your looking for.

Offline ID_Joker

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 10:11:28 AM »
Remember that there are lots of reasons you might use your BOB/GHB.  I'd say there are probably more times you WOULD want to be found than that you would not want to be found.  It's mostly in a collapse-type scenario that you don' want to be found, where as if you're stuck in your car, car breaks down, you get in a wreck and you're injured, etc ..then signaling to someone would be helpful

So I agree with Fred.Greek.  If you have them, you have the choice of whether or not to use them.

Offline endurance

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2012, 10:31:59 AM »
I try not to be redundant in my kit and there's plenty of good signaling devices you're going to have anyway.  Any shiny object will work as a signal mirror including the polished inside of an altoids tin and those with a smart phone have a glass surface with them all the time.  I don't go anywhere without a bright flashlight and my kit always has spare batteries.  Again, there's smart phone apps that do SOS strobing and use the flash for a flashlight.  A whistle can be used as both a signal device and a communication device with family or group members.  Besides, it weighs nothing.

Some of my paracord is florescent pink with reflective piping.  It makes it easier to find tools that use it as a lanyard, it makes guy lines visible with a headlamp at night or day so you don't trip over them, and if you need to, you can use it as flagging to mark your trail so you can use it to backtrack or to aid rescuers to track you.

I live in wildfire country so I don't believe in aerial flares or smoke devices.  Both have the potential to make a bad situation a whole lot worse.  I've also learned from experience that most smoke devices do a lousy job of getting smoke over a dense forest canopy.  For some reason the stuff adheres to the ground and never gets up to the tree tops to be visible from above.  Obviously location and vegetation type could change this recommendation.
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Offline bcksknr

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2012, 04:37:56 PM »
Yeah, I'll probably keep them in the kit. All of the smoke/flare items are commercially manufactured and legal. I forgot to mention that I also have one red road flare. Besides signalling, there is almost nothing that you can't get to burn with a road flare!

Offline SheepdogSurvival

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2012, 07:49:05 PM »
Get some marine signaling devices (make sure they are not expired before purchase). Or you can get expired ones for free sometimes if there are any commercial fishing outfits near you (for their expired ones, they typically work well beyond the exp date). Boaters are required to carry a certain number and type of flare/smoke depending on the vessel size and type, and once it's expired they can be cited if they don't replace it with a good ones so sometimes they'll give them away. Or make friends with the local coasties and see if they have any expired pyro they'd give(unofficially) you since it's not for regulated use. And beer helps :-D.
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Offline GreekMan

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2012, 03:42:27 AM »
I suggest having a look at some green lasers too. Stuck ina ravine it amy be the only means to make you visible.

The are soem specialized ones liek the "rescue laser" and soem quality pointers that have a polarized beam which is really visible
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Offline bcksknr

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2012, 09:07:24 PM »
Amateur astronomy is one of my hobbies and I have two green lazers. We use them during public observing sessions to point out celestial objects. The green beam itself is visible as it seems to shoot out into space. These things are regulated as to output, but because of the frequency of the emitted beam, it is extremely bright. In fact it is a felony to shine one of these at an aircraft, because it could momentarily "dazzle" the pilot. I imagine in an emergency situation it could definitely get a pilots attention. I wouldn't "target" a rescue craft for any period of time so as not to "blind" the pilot. Quick flashes might be safer. Because some idiots have been "shining" commercial planes near airports, I understand the government may seek a ban on these devices. Use responsibly!

Offline The Professor

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2012, 09:37:06 PM »
Well, some of the items in my kit can be used to signal. The same mirror I use in the Hygiene Module can be used to reflect sunlight.  The flashlights can be used to signal. I have a "homemade" VS-17 panel, flourescent pink and neon yellow/green, a bit larger and a lot lighter.

Not much into the smoke signal thing.  I always thought that they had to have a decent idea as to where you are for the smoke to work.  My problems with flares is that I'd be afraid of setting off a forest fire (something else to worry about in a survival situation).

I'm sorta lukewarm about the laser flare thing.  I guess I'd have to be sold on it, a bit more.

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Offline bcksknr

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2012, 08:34:32 AM »
I keep lithium batteries in mine, for longevity and resistance to voltage drop in the cold. Now that I think of it, I might put one in my BOB, and replace the aerial flares. Once the flares (three) are used they are gone, kaput. The lazer will work as long as the batteries last (a long time). Also, there is no danger of starting a fire. The flares have an expire date, but the lazer just needs new batteries if they expire (lithiums are good for 10 years storage). It also weighs less and is smaller than the flare package. Believe me, they are more than bright enough to get your attention. You could also flash the beam off of a cliff face or building, giving rescuers a real "light show" to home in on. The switch is a momentary contact button, so it would be possible to do a Morse code SOS. The lazer can be operated one-handed; the flares require two hands to launch. If you shine one of these in an attackers eyes, he will be temporarily blinded (getaway time). Might even work on animal predators. Because I'm not sure about moisture and the circuits, I'd probably vacuum seal the lazer. I usually vacuum seal everything anyway.

Offline endurance

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2012, 09:44:49 AM »
I suspect the good news is you will be rescued.  I also suspect the bad news is that you'll be going to jail or at least paying a six-figure fine for using a laser on a pilot, even if it's just for a moment.

Using it at night to shine on clouds is one thing, but even pointing it in the direction of a plane is likely to put you in jail.  Totally not worth it to me.
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Offline bcksknr

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2012, 10:03:42 AM »
I beg to differ. Hopefully we are all responsible enough not to use a lazer in a less-than-life threatening situation. I'm assuming that rescue signalling would be used only in a dire, life or death emergency. If I was stranded in the wilderness I wouldn't hesitate to shoot a deer out of season or trap a rabbit without a permit to prevent starvation. If I was lost in a blizard and came upon a no tresspassing sign, but could see a dwelling in the distance, I'd walk right across that property to seek help. If my fishing boat had sunk and I was floating in a life jacket at night I wouldn't hesitate to signal with a lazer if I heard a plane. I'm not trying to be a smart a_s here, but if lives depended on it (I'm not just talking about running out of gas or a flat tire) I'd prudently use a lazer to attract attention. I'd rather be alive and explaining to the authorities why I had to signal, than be a law abiding deadman.

Offline endurance

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2012, 10:19:35 AM »
It's a controversial topic and there's no easy answers.  If it weren't for the teenagers and others who act like them, they'd be a perfectly reasonable tool for rescue.  Unfortunately, both the Coast Guard and FAA are so sick of having pilots injured by the things that I'd fear being that first example they wanted to set.

One of my favorite sources loves them:
http://www.equipped.com/rescuelaser.htm

While it's clear that they're causing problems and authorities are getting scared and frustrated:
http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/2012/08/04/2979550/lasers-under-fire-by-rescue-officials.html

Personally, I'd rather have a locator beacon (SPOT, InReach, E-PRB, etc) over all other signalling devices. 
"There are things that you don't question when your home always smells like baking bread."  From The Hunger Games

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Offline bcksknr

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2012, 01:11:43 PM »
Those are a very good alternative, especially for high risk activities, as in mountain climbing or open ocean boating. You're correct in that it is always the irresponsible few that cast a shadow on the rest of us.

Offline endurance

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #16 on: December 26, 2012, 02:45:22 PM »
I used a SPOT between 2006 (or 7) to 2010 and really liked it.  My GF at the time loved the fact that I could check in with her from the trailhead before each ride (MTB) and I liked the reassurance that if I had a catastrophic injury, I could be assured that help would come.  However, I quickly discovered that having limited messaging options was a real weakness.  If, for instance, I blew out my rear hub and wanted my wife to come pick me up, but I was not in any danger, that's a hard message to convey with a one of three messages (help, 911 or ok).  So my next device will be an InReach.  The ability to send text messages via satellite is a huge bonus and well worth it for me during the summer when I'm doing a lot more trail running, hiking and biking.

For a BOB/GHB, it's just not something I've considered.  I figure those kits are designed for my independence from systems of support and therefore I limit myself to a kit that cuts out things like signaling devices.  I'd rather have a good pair of long johns or wool socks than a E-PLB because in a true SHTF, there's not going to be anybody coming to my rescue anyway.  On a day to day basis I carry so little gear that most preppers would think I'm nuts for having so little, but carry so much stuff that my wife thinks I'm nuts.  That's how I know I've got the mix right. ;)
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Offline trekker111

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2012, 09:26:28 PM »
I keep 3 12ga aerial flares and launcher, and 3 handheld flares, in my ghb, along with a blaze orange disposable poncho, whistle, and emergency mylar blanket. The poncho and blanket weigh almost nothing and have multiple uses, signalling and drawing attention are just 2. And since my ghb goes on the boat with me, i chose coast guard approved signals so they pull double duty as required safety equipment, and survival supplies while off the boat.

I also carry a couple colored, fire work type, smoke grenades. Which i cut down to reduce waisted space, the actual pyrotechnic portion of those cardboard type smoke grenades is significantly smaller than the finished product. When you peel off the paper there is actually a lot of empty paper tube left, which is easy to cut off, then i dip them in paraffin and wrap in saran wrap to help make them water resistant. Just a space saving tip for a bob.

Offline The Professor

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #18 on: December 26, 2012, 10:06:16 PM »
Maybe I'm missing something with these "laser flares."

I still have a problem with how you expect them to work.  So, let me describe how I am foreseeing their use:

I'm lost in the middle of nowhere.  Search parties are out, planes and helicopters are out searching for me. 

I, in my bedraggled state, hear a helicoptor flying 2 or 3 miles from me.  I whip out  my handy Laser Flare, run frantically to a clearing and see the helicopter moving at an angle to me.  So, I aim my laser at the helicopter as it's moving.  My goal, I would assume, is to hit the cockpit consistently enough for the pilot/copilot/crew to notice my green flickering light.

In other words, I have to aim and hit an area about 2/3rds the size of a garage door, 2 miles away flying at 20-50 miles per hour?

And this would be better than a personal strobe. . .how?

Don't get me wrong, I find the idea intriguing, but I just don't see the practical application of it being as easy as, say, flipping a switch on a strobe and standing in a clearing (or raising the strobe above the canopy level).

Not to mention, a strobe is a helluva lot cheaper (though, granted, not as much fun to play with the dog).

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Offline trekker111

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2012, 05:52:04 AM »
The signaling lasers are not like the laser pointers, think more of the nd-3 laser illuminators, the laser actually spreads out sort of like a flash light, but since it is a laser, the light does not diffuse like a flashlight.

Depending on the brand and model, they are nearly as bright at 50 miles as they are at 50 feet, but the beam is a circle roughly 6000 feet in diameter.

Sort of laser pointer vs. Batman signal. I have a nd-3 laser illuminator which i use to shoot coyotes at 200 and 300 yards at night, through a scope, but the same illuminator doesn't blind me when shined at a white wall in my dark house. A spot light bright enough to use to shoot a coyote at 300 yards at night would burn my retinas if shined at a white wall 15 feet away.

Offline bcksknr

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Re: Signal Devices for BOB/GBH
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2013, 11:49:22 AM »
After reading the replies, I've decided to keep the signal whistle and mirror (proven standbys). I'm also keeping the cut-in-half red ground flare because it can also serve as a firestarter. I've ditched the arial flares and orange smoke, primarily because they are one-use items. I may substitute a Radio Shack brand rescue strobe that can run on the same lithium batteries as my radio and LED lights. Most of my gear is rather "subdued" so I may also put in a blaze orange plastic panel (made from a really large, yet thin Farm & Fleet shopping bag).