Hey there, if you’re here looking to learn how to signal SOS with a flashlight you probably already know what SOS is. But just in case real quick here we go.
What Does SOS Mean?
So in truth, the idea of the distress signal meaning the letters SOS is completely off.
In the early nineteen hundreds countries got together to try to figure out how a ship that needed help could signal anything around it even if they didn’t speak the same language.
There were a couple of different options that were tossed around but the simple signal 3 quick 3 long and three quick was easier and that other options. This became the international signal for distress
The goal what’s to find something that could not be confused as another form of communication, was easy to remember, and could be used quickly.
It just happens to be that 3 quick dots is an s in Morse code and 3 long dashes is an o in Morse code. And SOS became the name of the Morse Code rescue signal.
There was never the thought that it was an acronym. But some common acronyms were “save our souls” or “save our ship” probably due to the fact that it was meant to be for sailors.
How To Signal SOS With A Flashlight
Once you know the pattern for SOS you will be able to modify it for lots of different things. For a flashlight, this looks like 3 quick flashes, 3 long flashes, then 3 quick flashes.
Depending I’m the type of flashlight you have it may be easier or harder to make flashes of light quickly.
Probably the easiest flashlight to do this with would be a light with a momentary on button. This is usually found in the tail and it allows you to half press the button and the light comes on but if you release the light goes off. Most tactical flashlights will have this ability.
If you have a flashlight where you twist the head to turn the light on and off it can also be pretty quick to do SOS since you just twist the light on three times quickly and it three times leaving a light on longer and then three times quickly again.
But, some flashlights depending on their UI and their electronic switch have a harder time turn on and off quickly. I know with the Olight UI just a simple press will turn it on and off at the last brightness you had you call this memory.
On the other hand, if you have a light with an electronic switch but no memory it will always start at the first position which might be low. In this case, if you just push the button on and off it will only work quickly in the low setting.
Which won’t help much since it can’t be seen from very far away. You probably want a powerful light in this situation. In this case, it would really help if the manufacturer had an SOS mode.
Another way it could work would be just how you would signal SOS with a fire. Find something that will cover the light source and move it in front of an out-of-the-way to create the life-saving signal.
We think any light that you’re going to take out into Backcountry or somewhere where you might need help should have an SOS mode. If you are in the market for a new flashlight check out our Top Lights Hub Article which will direct you to a more specific flashlight type.
Why is an SOS mode so beneficial? Because you can set it and forget it..
You do not have to manually push a button.
Also, the flashing of the light will preserve the battery sorry flashlight that only had one hour of battery life on high continuously yes it was flashing out a signal would probably have 3 to 5 hours of battery life.
Another flashing mode that is an SOS but can be extremely helpful in rescue situations is Beacon mode.
With Beacon mode, the light flashes at full brightness with 2-3 seconds in between. The same light above that would last three to five hours in SOS mode will last 5 to 10 hours in Beacon mode or considerably longer.
Other ways to Signal SOS if you need help
A lot of this website is about flashlights so that’s what we covered most but anyway you can get across the signal 3 quick blinks, three longer blinks, and again three quick blinks should work.
Signal SOS With a Signal Mirror
If you are in or going into any situation where there might be an emergency you should have a mirror. Mirrors are useful for many things and it is probably one of the most important pieces of survival gear you can have.
You would signal SOS with a mirror by reflecting light at a certain object, three quick flashes, 3 long flashes, three quick flashes.
Humans are made for pattern recognition so if anything can set a pattern a human will probably notice it.
The huge benefit of using a mirror and reflecting the sunlight is it can travel for many many many miles and you don’t have to worry about a battery or using up fuel or anything.
So carry a mirror
Signal SOS With A Whistle
Using a whistle for SOS it’s just as easy as with light the only difference is that sound doesn’t travel as far or as fast but the benefit of using a whistle is that it doesn’t use up any fuel or energy or anything similar to the signal mirror.
Blow the whistle three times fast, blow the whistle 3 times with longer segments, and blow the whistle three times fast again.
How To Blink Morse Code SOS
If you’re in a situation where somebody is holding you captive and you can’t exactly ask for help then you need a discreet way to tell people you need help you can do this by blinking SOS or really anything that sends a signal as a pattern so somebody else will notice.
Similar to the flashing or the whistle 3 quick blinks, three longer blinks, and then 3 quick blinks.
This was actually used during the Vietnam by Jeremiah Denton who was the commander at the time but ended up becoming an admiral in the US Navy. He was being held captive as a p o w in Vietnam and they made a propaganda video to spread around the world saying that everything was okay and that he was being treated well.
During the video he used Morse code to blink out the word T-O-R-T-U-R-E all while answering questions they were being asked of him.
Conclusion To Using Morse Code SOS On A Flashlight
I hope you found this information useful.
The basic thing to remember regardless of how your signaling SOS is 3 quick, 3 long, 3 quick. This could be in dots in the sand influx of smoke from a fire in hand signals in a lot of things.
Most people probably won’t even know it’s a s o s what they will know is it a pattern and it’s not ordinary or what’s happening so a human will notice it because humans are made for pattern recognition.
Thanks for visiting the site. If you found this useful we have a lot of other tips and tricks for flashlights, the outdoors, survival or tactical situations, or just playing with your kids. Snoop around the site I hope you find some more good things.