For those heading out to the inner depths of the woods, please seriously consider bringing a whistle. A whistle is not expensive. Moreover, it is light. Even the 'expensive' ones are worth getting, as they last a lifetime and do not decay or break easily. One should not consider a whistle as toy or a worthless something. The single most important feature of a whistle is its life-saving usage. We hear a lot of news about people getting lost. By having a whistle, the chances of getting lost is reduced. The sharp audio yield from the tool penetrates further into the air than a shout. It can reach the loudness of about 120 decibels. It can be easily hung alongside the conventional compass with a small carabiner latched onto the strap of your backpack or daypack where they are easily reached.
How does one signal for help?
According to the International Whistle Code (also see pic below; pardon the low pic quality):
One blast means "Where are you?"
Two blasts: "Come to me."
Three blasts: "I need help!"
If you hear any of these signals, respond with one blast. Each blast should last 3 seconds.
So, during hiking, if you hear one blow, respond with one blow. This is so that the first blower knows he/she has been responded to, and that the second blower knows the location of the first blower, whether in front or at the back, and vice-versa. If you hear two blows, then respond with a single blow as usual, then go to the location of first blower. It may indicate that the first blower has difficulty of locating the trail e.g. fork junctions, covered trails especially after rain, or injured and etc. Generally, it means request for assistance/help. Three blows means serious alert, and all need to respond immediately. Frequent single blows during the hike journey should be considered normal notifications and should not pose any alarms. You may hear yells that mimic birds or monkeys once a while at irregular intervals for those who do not carry whistles. This is most notable with orang asli guides; they do that for a couple of reasons -- as a beacon to announce his location, or to signal to nearby animals there are visitors as a matter of 'early warning' rather than surprising the animals with their presence.
What type of whistles to get?
Any whistle you can get from proper outdoor shops. Soccer referee whistles are fine too. Please read the label for loudness/usage before buy. Not all whistles sound the same in terms of tone and pitch, and not all yield the same loudness. Most of us like Daiso RM5 products; they do have whistles too but note that they are not loud.
So, come your next hiking trip, whether day trip or overnite camping, bring along a whistle!
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