You can only yell for help as long as your voice lasts. Here’s why you need to carry a whistle.
by Leon Pantenburg
To keep your child safe in the city or in the wilderness, the proper training and a whistle, may be the most important tools.
I carry a whistle at all times on my keyring. For an easily-carried auditory signalling device, there is nothing better. A whistle blast is not normal: People tend to look in the direction where the noise came from.
Shouting for help, during an emergency, will last as long as your voice does. (Remember Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet floating on that door after the ship went down in “Titanic“?)
And screaming, whooping and hollering won’t carry as far as a shrill whistle, and may be mistaken for something other than a call for help.
In an urban situation where everyone is talking and making noise, a whistle can cut through the background din to draw attention in your direction. (And here’s an interesting survival scenario: If you end up in a dark movie theater and the lights go out completely, whoever has a flashlight instantly becomes a leader! If you also use a whistle, you will be viewed as the person in charge. (Here’s a whistle that will work really well.)
A good safety practice is to attach a whistle to every child on every outing. (My kids were so used to this. When my daughter was younger and went to the mall, a whistle was clipped to her backpack. If she felt threatened or in danger, she had been trained to blow it, wherever she might be!)
Here are some whistle training rules to teach your child:
- The whistle is not a toy. Never blow the survival whistle for fun, and only use it if you’re lost.
- In an urban or wilderness situation, don’t move around once you think you’re lost.
- Stay in one place and blow a series of three blasts. This is the universal distress signal.
- After you blow the three blasts, wait awhile, and blow another series. Searchers may be trying to signal back, and you won’t hear them if you blow continually.
- If lost in a crowd, stay in one place and blow three blasts on your whistle. Keep doing this regularly until you are found.
* A really good wilderness safety reference book for parents is “I Sit and I Stay.” In the book, author Leah L. Waarvik gives whistle-training and other safety tips for kids if they get lost outdoors.
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