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When you decide to stay put and wait for rescue, prepare help signals as soon as possible.

The international emergency sign for distress is three of any signal: three shots, three blasts on a whistle, three flashes with a mirror, or three fires evenly spaced. If you’re near an open space, walk an “X” in the snow, grass, or sand. Make it as large as possible so that it can be seen easily from the air. Placing branches, logs, or rocks along the “X” will make it more visible. Do not light signal fires until you hear an aircraft. Adding green boughs, preferably pine if available, to the fire will help create smoke.

Once you have a shelter, fire, and your signal prepared, you can focus on water and food.

Three blasts on a whistle is the international signal for help

Personal Locator Beacons

Personal locator beacons (PLBs) provide a distress and alerting system for use in a life-and-death situation. A PLB is a small transmitter that sends out a personalized emergency distress signal to a monitored satellite system. When you buy a PLB, you must register it with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). PLBs are a highly effective and internationally recognized way to summon help.

Personal locator beacon