An emergency whistle could be the one piece of backpacking or hiking equipment that saves your life. That toy you played with as a child is a critical piece of gear you should make sure you have in easy reach before heading into the backcountry or to the Mall.
Table of Contents
- Why an Emergency Whistle is Important
- Situations Where Emergency Whistles Save Lives
- How to Choose the Whistle You Need
- Emergency Whistle Review and Recommendations
- Emergency Whistle – Final Thoughts
Why an Emergency Whistle is Important
There are many situations that you will benefit from carrying an emergency whistle.
- Rescuers need to be able to hear you if you are hurt and cannot yell.
- If are lost and need a sound that will carry distances, emergency whistles are a great solution.
- Scaring off agressive wild life with the sharp, piercing sound.
- Chasing away a human attacker or signaling you need help in any situaion.
Having a whistle close at hand makes signaling for help accessible in any situation. In addition, emergency whistles are lightweight and easy to carry, and there is no reason you can’t have one attached to your backpack, jacket, or in a glove box or purse.
An emergency whistle does not have to be that familiar whistle you hang around your neck or attach to your backpack. The Midland ER310 is a good example.
This little radio has three power sources (solar, crank, rechargeable) and lasts up to 32 hours on a charge. The radio is also an ultrasonic dog whistle so rescuers can find you trapped under debris.
This is an excellent radio for earthquakes, power outages, or generally when the SHTF.
Situations Where Emergency Whistles Save Lives
I’ve already explained the importance of emergency whistles, but below is more detail around situations where they are essential.
- Survival situations: Carrying an emergency whistle is just one piece of the survival gear you should have. Three short blasts from an emergency whistle is the known international signal for emergency help. Falling or injuring yourself in the wilderness is no joke. It is easy sprain an ankle or fall in rugged terrain, and it can often be very difficult for rescue teams to locate victims. This is where an emergency whistle is critical.
- Natural disaster situations: Natural disasters are common in many parts of the country – hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, blizzards, etc. In many of these situations you need to summon help fast, and with all of the noise around you (wind, rain, fire, etc) this can be difficult. This is where a simple emergency whistle can save your life.
- Crime prevention: Having an emergency whistle is a necessary compliment to the Urban Survival skills I’m sure you already have. Criminals don’t want to be noticed, so if you are going Christmas Shopping or cutting through a dark alley, have your whistle. Loud noises are going to deter anyone trying not to be noticed.
- Scare animals: Whether it is an aggressive dog or a predatory mountain lion, they are going to think twice when you blow a high pitched whistle. Check out this video at time 4:05 where the hiker plays a harmonica when she encounters a mountain lion. I think she probably just confused it in this case, but I’m sure you get the concept.
How to Choose the Whistle You Need
There are a lot of emergency whistles available. Below are a few things to consider when picking out a whistle.
- It should be loud – the whistle shoudl be lound and easy to blow. If you are hurt, it may be difficult to blow hard. The whistle must be able to produce a high-pitched, penetrating sound that is going to be heard for a long distance and over other noises.
- It has to be durable and weather resistant – you never know what type of situation you can end up in so you need a tough weather resistant whistle. Regular whistles need certain conditions in order to function properly but when it comes to emergencies you can’t be picky about conditions. You need a whistle that will work well in Antarctica or at the bottom of an abyss.
Also make sure that the material is resistant to shocks. If you fall and the whistle breaks it does you no good. One other tip – in very cold environments metallic whistles will stick to your lips. Ouch
- Choose a pealess whistle – I recommend choosing a pealess whistle. Due to the fact that they don’t have any moving parts this type of emergency whistle will not get jammed. The harder you blow, the louder the sound is going to be. A whistle with a pea loses its efficiency as dirt and moisture get inside. If the pea gets stuck then the sound won’t come out anymore. With a pealess safety whistle you don’t have to worry about this.
- Convenience – A whistle is small and can easily be lost. That’s why you need a whistle that you can attach to something or wear around your neck. Bright colors are also important when you are digging around in a backpack. There are many whistle designs that allow you to wear it as a bracelet, or even a ring in order to have it close. Make sure that if you wear it around your neck, you use a lanyard that will break under pressure. You can also learn how to make a paracord lanyard. Remember that you don’t want a thug to use the whistle cord against you and end up strangling you with your own lanyard. Try bright orange or phosphorescent green, these are the colors most easy to spot.
Emergency Whistle Review and Recommendations
Below are some excellent emergency whistle recommendations. These are popular choices with good reviews.
1) UST JetScream whistle
This is a loud whistle (up to 122 decibels), and it’s not a toy. This whistle is loud enough to be painful when blown hard.
This is a great, lightweight, durable whistle that you can take anywhere you go.
- Made out of high strength plastic so it doesn’t rust
- 2.3 inches (5.8 cm) long
- Weighs about 8.5 g (0.3 oz)
- Comes in two colors: black and orange. Orange is much easier to locate
- Up to 122 db and can be heard over natural and man-made noises
- Will float in case you are in the water. The whistle will be easy to reach
- Pealess design so it won’t jam or fail
- Easy to carry – around neck, pocket, backpack, purse, glove box
If you want to get this whistle up to 122 dB, you will have to blow hard!
2) Fox 40 Sonik Blast CMG Whistle
The Fox40 Sonik Blast CMG is another great emergency whistle. Its best feature is the whistle’s ease of use.
Besides being easy to blow, this whistle is crazy loud at 120 dB! In addition, the rubber mouthpiece makes it pleasant to use. This is a very popular whistle that should go wherever you do.
- It can reach up to 120 dB and be heard over a mile away
- Made from high-impact ABS plastic – durable and moisture resistant
- Pealess design so no jam ups
- Can’t be overblown – the harder you blow the louder it blows
- Comfortable rubber mouthpiece makes it easy to use frequently
The lanyard is a little flimsy, so you probably want to replace it.
3) SHvivik Emergency Whistle
This is a good-looking whistle that is also functional. The double-tube whistle reaches up to 120 decibels.
The SHvivik is the best-looking whistle in this group and is easy to carry on your keychain or a neck lanyard. This whistle is made from an aluminum alloy, which is very lightweight.
- It can reach up to 120 db
- Double tubes make the sound loud and it carries over a long distance
- The aluminum alloy is light-weight and durable
- Pealess design and no moving parts – no jamming and no obstruction of sound
- Good looking whistle with a well made lanyard and chain
This whistle is loud, but you will have to practice a few times and make sure the whistle is positioned right in your mouth.
4) FUTURESTEPS Survival Whistle
This whistle has some of the highest ratings in this group. The aluminum whistle has no moving parts to jam and reaches 120 decibels.
This is my favorite whistle because it is lightweight and easy to handle. It is not so small that I will fumble it in a fast situation when I need it. I also like that the whistle is easy to carry on my pack or keychain. Finally, I’m tough on some of my smaller gear, and this whistle will not break.
- This whistle fits well in my hand and is easy to hold and handle
- A loud, easy-to-use whistle that reaches 120 dB
- Bright color is easy to locate in a pack or bag
- Pealess design and no moving parts – no jamming and no obstruction of sound
- Very durable aluminum that won’t break
- It also looks good!
This is not an orange color like the picture. It is closer to red.
Emergency Whistle – Final Thoughts
In today’s world, being prepared for emergencies and attackers is very important. Even going shopping at the mall now requires some self-defense weapon.
Aggressive animals are also more of a threat. I’m an avid outdoors person, and with fewer people hunting and more people moving into urban areas, wild and domestic animals are becoming more of a threat.
Emergency whistles are very lightweight and easy to carry. There is no reason not to have one in your backpack, glove box, or on your key chain. Predators don’t like noise, and a good loud whistle might save your life.
Purchase one of the whistles above, stand next to traffic, and blow it. Maybe even wait for a touchdown at the SEC Championship and then blow it. If you can easily hear the whistle over the noise around you, you probably have the proper whistle.
In a pinch, will blowing on your fingers do the job in certain situations?
Hi Bob, It depends with the situation and you must really be good blowing on your fingers.
Whistles can be used in hurricane survival situations to locate lost victims. However, unless I’m along the path of a hurricane, I don’t think I would need a whistle.
Whistles are not just for hurricane preparation, it can be used for many things. Even if you are not in hurricane or twister country, you can still place this in any emergency kit. You can use it during earthquakes, landslides, if you get lost in the wilderness, if you find yourself floating at sea, etc. Never underestimate this tool.
I love the fact that whistles don’t use any sort of electricity so it is cool to use them in emergency situations. Especially if communities develop some sort of signal system which has different meanings for different sounds.
Thank you, Joseph, for sharing your opinion with us.
I would like to consider a whistle for a company gift with our new logo. Anyone know how I could get a whistle branded with a logo?
Check online for companies that do whistle logo imprint, such as Fox40.
A basic survival kit should always include a whistle, it has been proven to help in every survival situation that people have found themselves into. A whistle helps direct a hunting dog, get the attention of a large crowd. I recommend investing in a survival whistle and put it on your keychain, or in your backpack, because this way even if you forget to pack your emergency whistle, you can always have it with you. Many outdoor backpacks include a survival whistle built into the buckle clips.
Regardless of how small it is, a survival whistle is one of the most important survival gear during emergencies, when venturing in the unknown, and when hunting with hounds. We have provided you with multiple design options for preference and convenience.
I question the comment about “Three short whistle blasts is internationally recognized as a distress signal ”
In mountaineering, certainly in the UK, six blasts followed by a one minute delay is the standard distress signal to be continued until you are reached as a rescue team might be trying to triangulate where your signal is coming from. Three blasts at one minute intervals is a response saying you have been heard.
Of course any frantic whistling in the wild is going to attract attention and investigation.
According to research, “A distress signal can be three fires or piles of rocks in a triangle, three blasts on a whistle, three shots from a firearm, or three flashes of a light, in succession followed by a one-minute pause and repeated until a response is received. Three blasts or flashes is the appropriate response.” I hope this piece of info is helpful.