Image of the July 2015 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
July 2015 Issue
Home / Articles / Skills

Be seen by a rescue helicopter

Find an open space, wear bright clothing and use an irregular shaped object. Photo: RCCNZ

Colours, movement and irregular shapes are your best bet for being spotted

Even if you’ve activated a PLB, rescue crews won’t necessarily know your exact location, so if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of waiting for rescue, make yourself as visible as possible.

Anything fluorescent, such as a pack liner, is a great thing to wave towards the sky. Blue’s an easy colour to spot. So are yellow and orange, particularly above the treeline.

And Jim Spencer, who leads the Aoraki/Mt Cook alpine rescue team, says movement is just as important as colour. “Even if you think you’re blending in, if you move there’s a chance you’ll be seen,” he says.

“When we’re flying we’re not looking for a person as such, but for an irregularity – a different colour or texture – anything that stands out. Even a square shape will help us to spot you.”

If the sun’s out, Spencer also recommends flashing a compass mirror, if you have one.

READ MORE: How lost people can make themselves seen