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Importance of Survival Skills

Navy Skills for Life – Land Survival Training – Emergency Signal

Navy Skills for Life – Land Survival Training – Emergency Signal


All right. Once all your survival needs have been met – you’ve got your shelter up, you’ve got your warming fire, and you’ve got your water – now might be a time to start considering rescue. One signal device that you have that is an underrated piece of gear is a signal mirror. Any reflective item that you have could possibly work but a signal mirror, if you have one, it’s specifically made for that. And this flash can be seen for many miles away. The only thing I need is just a little bit of sunlight so that I can catch the sun and tilt this thing back and forth to get somebody’s attention. I do have a sighting hole and, at this time, I’m going to simulate flashing an aircraft flying overhead. I’m using the sun. I don’t shine directly into the cockpit. I catch that beam on my hand. And then I just flash back and forth. And normally they’re looking for you so they’re going to realize that’s where they’re at right there.

1 thought on “Navy Skills for Life – Land Survival Training – Emergency Signal

  • There is more going on with this signal mirror than meets the eye. When you look through the mesh aimer in the center of this signal mirror in the direction of the reflected sunbeam, you see a bright round fuzzy glowing "fireball" in the direction of the reflected sunbeam. To flash a potential rescuer, you sweep the very center of the "fireball" across the target.

    The "fireball" is created by glass retroreflective beads on the mesh that reflect the sunlight back towards the sun. Some of that light reflects off the glass-air interface at the front of the mirror back to the user's eye, creating the "fireball".

    A good retroreflective aimer makes it far easier to signal distant targets than other signal mirror aiming methods, which is why US military issue signal mirrors have had retroreflective aimers since the middle of World War II.

    The specific mirror Paul is using is a US military issue Mark 3 MIL-M-18371E 2"x3" laminated glass signal mirror. The MIL-M-18371E mirror comes in both 2"x3" and 3"x5" sizes, and can be purchased on the commercial market. The glass Mark 3 emergency signalling mirror with the retroreflective mesh aimer has been in continuous US military service since the US Navy introduced it in 1949. There is also a US government issue plastic mirror with a star-shaped retroreflective aimer, the StarFlash mirror, as well as similar quality commercial signal mirrors with retroreflective aimers, such as the Coghlans glass signal mirror and the American Medical Kits "Rescue Flash" mirror.

    Be aware, however, that there are some commercial glass signal mirrors made to look like the MIL-M-18371E mirror, but whose mesh does not provide the aiming "fireball" – avoid these. For more on that topic, as well as links to the MIL-M-18371E specification and the original patent on the mesh aimer, Google for "phony glass signal mirrors".

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