Although whistles are generally inexpensive, they are still one of the most effective ways to draw attention if you become lost or in need of help during an emergency situation.
Whether you regularly go out hiking, want something to carry for personal safety or you just want a means of signaling for your survival kit, a good whistle should never be underestimated. The piercing sound will travel much farther than your voice will, even in wet and windy conditions. Some, like the HyperWhistle will even work underwater.
However, not all whistles are made equally and with so many available on the market, it can be hard when trying to choose a whistle for your survival kit and to be honest, there are a lot of whistles out there that are useless, more for fun than anything else.
Here are some things that you should consider when buying a whistle for your survival kit:
- Sound – The sound produced by the whistle is the most important factor to consider. After all, it could be the one thing that gets you rescued. Your survival whistle needs to be heard from a distance and over the surrounding noises. Ideally, you want to aim for a whistle that produces sounds from 90 decibels and more.
- Durability and Reliability – A safety whistle needs to be able to function in all conditions. You need a whistle that will still function properly even after getting wet or during high winds. You want something that will work as good during a harsh winter as it will in extreme heat.
- Accessibility – Ideally, you want a whistle that can be easily attached to your clothing, keys, or backpack. It should also be easy to hold whether your hands are cold, dry, wet, or gloved.
- Metal or Plastic – Metal and plastic are two of the most common materials that whistles are made from and each has their pros and cons. Metal is stronger and more durable than most plastic whistles and won’t become brittle in extreme temperatures but corrode easily when exposed to salt and chlorine and are hard to grip with wet or cold hands. Plastic whistles are will not freeze in cold conditions, they will float, won’t corrode, and can usually produce a higher decibel sound. However, they can be weaker and less durable than metal and can become brittle in extreme conditions. Some of the best survival whistles available are made from high-quality plastic.
Now that you know what to look for in a survival whistle, let’s take a look at some of the better ones in our opinion.
We believe that the Hyperwhistle is one of, if not the very best survival whistle available today. It is known as the world’s loudest survival whistle for a reason and has been recorded at over 143 DB. It can be heard from over 2 miles away and is 8x louder than a common sports whistle.
The HyperWhistle works great anytime and anywhere, whether it’s raining, or even underwater. It is naturally buoyant so it’ll float if you accidentally drop it in water, and features an anti-microbial composite and all-weather construction. It also comes with a strap so that you can easily wear it around the neck or wrap it around your hand for quick use.
The Storm All-Weather Safety Whistle
While the Storm Safety Whistle is still claiming to be the world’s loudest whistle, the claims are no longer true. However, it is still an incredibly loud and very good survival whistle.
It has been carefully designed so that it can be heard through walls, glass, and across the water. Like the Hyperwhistle, this one can also be used underwater and features decibel levels that range from 118 to 120 DB. The Storm Safety Whistle is an affordable whistle that has been built to last.
SOL Slim Rescue Howler
The SOL Slim Rescue Howler survival whistle emits a signal of 100 DB which is more than enough for most situations and will work in all conditions without fear of it freezing or jamming.
These whistles are ideal for signaling for help even when help is over a mile away. The SOL Slim Rescue Howler has a pea-less design that ensures that the whistle works when you need it the most. Each pack contains two whistles so you can keep one in your pocket or worn around the neck with a backup whistle kept in your survival kit.
Ultimate Survival Technologies Jet Scream Whistle
The Ultimate Survival Technologies Jet Scream Whistle is a tough and durable survival whistle that still works in wet conditions. It features man-made air streams through chambers that are harmonically tuned to deliver a piercing sound that you can hear over most other man-made and natural noises. The Ultimate Survival Technologies Jet Scream Whistle is small enough to fit easily in the pocket or attached to a lanyard for easy access.
How to Use a Survival Whistle
In almost every list that you find showing what to include in your bug out bag, there will almost always be a whistle included. But why? In a survival situation in which you are in need of help, your whistle could be the difference between being lost or found. The great thing about this method of signalling is that it does not matter whether it is day or night, or even on the weather, the sound of your whistle will still travel to potential rescuers. Your emergency whistle is not just a toy, it may just end up being the one piece of equipment that saves your life.
Earlier this year, a $4 survival whistle saved the life of kayaker Sean Davidson. He wasn’t new to kayaking but wanted to explore farther out than usual when a wave came out of nowhere and rolled his kayak over. The water temp is only 15 degrees above freezing. The scene repeated for two hours until Sean got so cold his body began shutting down. The entire time he kept blowing his whistle, hoping that someone would hear it, and they did. A sailboat was returning to Annapolis from Bermuda. Robert and Lanna Lowe, who were on board, heard a whistle. “And I looked forward and saw a head with it’s life jacket on and started screaming to my husband to turn the wheel, there’s someone in the water,” Lanna said.
With Davidson’s body stiff, cooling to just 81 degrees, it was a struggle to get him aboard. They got on the emergency radio and Bill Walls, who was out testing his new fishing boat, heard the call, and headed over. Power boats are faster than sailboats. With Davidson aboard, it sped to a marina where an ambulance was waiting. Simple safety gear like a whistle, life vest, radio and good people will save lives.
How to Signal With Your Survival Whistle
The SOS call is the most common signal when you are in need of help. The SOS code is:
- Three dots,
- Three dashes,
- Three more dots.
The dot is a short, sharp pulse about three seconds long; a dash is a longer pulse, approximately six seconds long. When calling an SOS signal, keep repeating the signal as often as you can stand it, and for as long as you need it. Blowing your whistle for these periods is not going to be easy, especially in a survival situation, but don’t stop, keep going.
International Whistle Codes
Three blasts of the whistle is an international distress call, which is loosely translated to “Help me!” Two blasts of the whistle is a call-back signal which means “Come here.” One blast can mean “Where are you?” or it can be a call-back signal if you hear anything that sounds like a code.
Each whistle blast should last 3 seconds.
If you don’t have a survival whistle in your kit, I recommend adding one now. They are lightweight and take up next to no room at all.