Signal Mirror 101

Signal Mirrors reflect the sun’s light and can be seen for miles away.  This low-tech device is, and always will be, one of the most effective ways to get attention from rescuers in an emergency situation.

In modern times, signal mirrors really became popular in World War II because of the readily available broken glass was used regularly for signalling and saved the lives of countless soldiers.  The modern signal mirror (that floats) was patented in the 1960’s.

> Check out this post on for the FULL modern history of Signal Mirrors

How to use a Signal Mirror

ECLO's Wallet Signal Mirror

The glare from a signal mirror can be seen for miles.

Using a mirror to signal for help is a basic concept but there are a few techniques you need to know.  Make sure you remove any protective film!

  1. Find the reflection by reflecting sunlight on a nearby surface.
  2. Aim the reflection by looking through the sighting hole or using your fingers to place the reflection onto your target.
  3. Place the reflection on your target and make several passes.

That’s it.  Signaling with a mirror isn’t too complicated but you will want to PRACTICE BEFOREHAND!  If your signal mirror doesn’t have a sighting hole (usually a star shaped hole in the middle of the signal mirror) you can use your thumb or two fingers to keep sight of the reflection and to aim the bright spot onto your target.

Distress Signals

For the most part you will just be trying to get attention from rescuers by flashing a light beam in their direction.  You can also send an “SOS” signal by flashing the reflection in this sequence:

 . . . _ _ _ . . . (Three Short.  Three Long.  Three Short.)


Different Types of Signal Mirrors

Typical signal mirrors are about 1/4″ thick and can float.  This makes them ideal for use in marine environments.  The process of making mirrors is actually somewhat complicated and requires a flat, hard surface for the chemical treatment to be applied to.  There are compact signal mirrors available that are on acrylic plastic and are around 1/8″ thick.

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