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Signal Mirror: The Small, Cheap Thing Your Gear Kit Is Missing

You might be forgetting the most low-impact survival gear in your kit. Does a signal mirror ring a bell?

Think of all the times that your cellphone saved you from bad situations. Luckily, you have signal to call and get help, but imagine the worst scenario on a camping or backpacking trip: you don't have cellphone signal. Emergency situations are quick to make me panic and stress out. I like to be prepared for the worst while exploring the backcountry. Trust me, you won't have service to call a friend to help you out. If you're wondering what you can do to give yourself a chance to be rescued when you're off the grid, invest in a signaling device for your survival kit.

A glass signal mirror is one of the most helpful devices used in rescue situations. Most signal mirrors can aim reflected light mirror flashes on targets up to 25 miles away. So who are the rescuers who might see your light spot signal? It could be anyone from search and rescue teams of national parks, the police, or even the U.S. Air Force.

It all depends on where you are stranded. Rescue teams vary from mountains, water, and even forests. One thing they all have in common is that they are trained to look for emergency signaling. An emergency signaling mirror could be the reason you are saved. You have to help rescuers help you. Do this by using a signal mirror and sending heliograph signals.

Coghlan's sight-grid signal mirror is only $16 and is about the size of a credit card, so it's convenient to carry. It's definitely worth the investment. It even has a lanyard hole so you can wear it around your neck, so you can create the rescue flash no matter what your situation is if you keep this reflective surface around your neck. This emergency signal mirror floats on water, so if you drop it, you should be in the clear, but take advantage of using a lanyard.

How to Use a Signal Mirror

Visit Coghlan for a step-by-step tutorial, or watch the video below.

Once you're familiar with how to use the sighting hole, using a signaling mirror will be easy. Just aim the mirror up and locate the reflection on a nearby surface, and you'll soon be ready to aim toward your target. Hopefully, you never have to use it, but it's best to be prepared. Keep a glass mirror in your first aid kit, and be ready to use it in the case of an emergency.

This article was originally published on October 17, 2019.