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Mountain SOS Signals

Updated: Dec 26, 2020


SOS The United Kingdom and European Alps


Principle of SIX - SOS signals

Six signals within 1 minute, pause for 1 minute and repeat the six signals within 1 minute. Repeat the sequence until respond.


Sound signals e.g.:

  • Whistle

  • Shouting


Visual signals e.g.:

  • Flashes (Torch/headlamp)

  • Mirror / reflective metal

  • Waving clothes


Respond signal

3 signals within 1 minute, pause for 1 minute and repeat 3 signals within a minute.


SOS North America


Principle of THREE - SOS signals

3 signals within 1 minute, pause for 1 minute, repeat 3 signals within a minute, and repeated until respond.


Sound signals e.g.:

  • Whistle

  • Gunshots

Visual signals e.g.:

  • Flashes (Torch/headlamp)

  • Mirror/ reflective metal

  • Waving clothes

Mountain SOS signals in Europe and North America

The distress signals and answers need not be identical. A periodic signal in an unusual place for an extended period should attract attention.


Stationary SOS signals

3 objects in a triangle shape that can draw attention e.g.:

  • Build 3 fires in a triangle shape with 100 paces apart on open high ground. Beware not to start a wildfire.

  • Build 3 rock piles in triangle shape 100 paces apart on open high ground.


Stationary SOS signal in North America

Signals to helicopter or aircraft:

YES - raise two hands up to form a letter “Y” to indicate positive.

NO - one hand up and one hand down to form a letter “N” to indicate negative.



Signals to helicopter or aircraft

Information from:


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