International mountain rescue signals are still the same today as they were in the past, and often the only means possible in the immensity of the mountains is sending an visual or acoustic signal 6 times per minute, at regular intervals, i.e. every 10 seconds. Pause for a minute and repeat the same signal until you receive a response. This is done three times in a minute, every 20 seconds, in a visual or audible way.
By acoustic signals, we mean shouting or whistling or any other perceptible noises; by visual signals we mean waving handkerchiefs, items of clothing or mirror signals; at night you can use a torch or, if possible, a fire (obviously with caution, especially if you are in a wooded area or a wooden shelter).
The ever more frequent use of helicopters by Mountain Rescue has rendered new signaling methods necessary. Coloroful sleeping bags or anoraks spread out on the ground, smoke signals or marks in the snow can aid location from above. The SOS rescue sign can be made with letters of about 2m long, using contrasting stones placed on the ground, or footprints in the snow. In order to be seen from above, i.e. by helicopter, you need to make the following signals with your arms or with lights at night:
When giving the helicopter instructions to land, keep the following in mind: with arms outspread, remain still at the edge of the landing place; where possible the area surrounding the landing place should be clear of obstacles up to a space of 20x20 meters.
SPECIAL NOTE! Don’t move away until the rotor blades have stopped: you are an important fixing point for the pilot. Any items of clothing laid on the floor to help the pilot should be held down with stones to protect against the strong airflow given off by the helicopter’s blades!