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Ways to Attract Attention When Lost

Getting lost can be a scary feeling, particularly if you are in an area where there are no people around. Occasionally people get separated from the group or wander off in a wilderness setting and are unable to get back to civilization on their own.

This can be especially frightening for children who get lost. But no matter what the age, it is important to stay calm and try to attract attention from others in any way you can. Luckily there are several ways you can try to grab others’ attention when you are lost in the middle of nowhere.


Attention When Lost



Fire is probably the best way to get attention in the wilderness when you are lost. If you are lucky you have some materials with you, such as matches or a lighter, to light a fire. Otherwise you may have to resort to survival methods such as rubbing sticks together.

This can be a challenge, but assuming you have a way to light a fire, then this should be your first move in getting found. Smoke from even a small fire can be seen for miles. If you are in an area prone to forest fires with fire lookouts on patrol, odds are your smoke will be spotted very soon. Make sure you add plenty of green material like leaves to the fire to make lots of smoke.



If you have a piece of shiny metal or a mirror with you, you can use the reflection of the sun to signal for help. As you move the reflective surface back and forth into the light of the sun, a sparkling reflection is produced that may be seen for miles away.

If you are aware of the general direction of where people may be, you can try to aim your reflector in that area.


Emergency Signals

If you have been missing for some time, there is a good chance there will be a rescue effort that involves aircraft flying overhead, looking for indicators of your position. Even if it isn’t a search team, any aircraft may spot a signal and report it by radio to those who can help.

Use limbs, rocks, trenches dug out of the snow or anything else you can find to spell out “SOS” or “HELP” on the ground in an open area where planes can easily see it. Remember to make the message very large. Making a large “X” is a recognized symbol for those needing medical assistance, so this could be a good way get a quick response.



Carry a whistle with you on any trip into places where getting separated and lost is a possibility. A blast from a whistle can be heard for a long distance, and it could help those searching for you find you in a situation where it is difficult to spot you, such as a thick forest. Continue to blow the whistle at regular intervals until someone arrives.


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