3 Must-Know Smoke Signals and How To Make Them

Smoke signaling is a method of communication that’s been largely forgotten in the modern world. But when SHTF, you’ll need reliable ways to send messages to others. Smoke signals are relatively easy to make (provided you can build a fire), and they can be seen for many miles. This is great news if you’re signaling for help or to get the attention of your family and friends. On the flipside, it can also alert your enemies to where you are. For that reason, smoke signals should be used wisely and only when appropriate for your situation.

Though old western movies often portray smoke signals as complicated communication methods, they are actually quite simple. They are only designed to send the most basic information rather than complicated messages. Here are three must-known smoke signals and how to make them.

How To Create a Smoke Signal

To create a smoke signal, you must have a fire going. For maximum effectiveness, build your fire in a clearing located high above your surroundings. Remember, the goal of your smoke signal is to achieve maximum visibility, so you’ll have the most success if you’re high up in the mountains in an area that’s not encumbered by trees.

Once you build a healthy fire, add things like green sticks and grass to it. These items will help create a lot of white smoke, which is most visible from far away. You won’t get sufficient smoke if you fuel your fire with just dry twigs and logs.

Finally, get a blanket wet so it doesn’t catch fire, then throw it over the top of your fire. Hold it there long enough to separate the plume of smoke beneath the blanket from the smoke rising above it. Then, pull the blanket off the fire to allow a puff of smoke out. Put the blanket back on if you plan to send up more puffs of smoke as part of your message. Here are the three most important smoke messages you need to know about when you’re in a survival situation

1. Call To Attention

A single puff of smoke is a call to attention. It simply means that something strange is happening, but you don’t yet know if you’re in imminent danger. People usually send up one puff of smoke when they want the viewer to pay attention and watch for future messages.

2. Everything’s Safe Here

Two puffs of smoke mean that everything is safe in the camp. It can also let neighboring travelers know that there is a safe, well-established camp nearby. If you’re ever out on your own in unsafe conditions, watch for two-puff smoke signals. They can mean the difference between joining a safe camp or wandering on your own in undesirable conditions.

Of course, if you’re ever in a life-and-death situation, you should be very cautious about approaching any unknown camp. Remember, the signals could be a trap. For that reason, you need to keep your eyes peeled and use great caution when approaching anyone else’s camp.

3. Danger, We Need Help!

Three-puff signals always mean there is danger. It usually means that the person or group sending the signal needs help immediately. This is how Native Americans warned of enemies in the vicinity or signaled the beginning of battle. If you ever find yourself in a life-or-death situation and need immediate assistance, do everything you can to build a fire and send out three puffs of smoke. You can also send out continuous columns of smoke to indicate danger as well.

Smoke signaling doesn’t require any special talent, and it’s one of the most useful methods for long-distance communication when cell towers are down. That’s why every survivalist should know how to recognize and make the three most common smoke signals.