How to use a Smoke Generator


How to Make a Smoke Generator for a Signal

By Gary Benton




A smoke generator could very well save your life. First, make a platform from dead wood, and stack it as shown in the illustration. Stack the wood 4 or 5 high, and make it fairly large, perhaps 4 feet in length. Then cover it with evergreen boughs, either pine or cedar, and have an opening below where you can insert a burning brand, limb, or other source of fire.

When ignited, use caution and move away instantly because it will flare up suddenly. The smoke produced will be a dense white smoke and the flames will be high. You could easily be burned, so ignite the boughs and quickly move away. However, do not light the generator until you hear or see an aircraft searching for you. Keep an eye on the weather as well, because if the cloud cover is too low and the aircraft is looking through breaks in the clouds you may not be seen. It's best to use this type of signal when you can see an aircraft, not just when you hear one.

If the aircraft commander sees your smoke generator, he will usually wiggle the wings to indicate to you that your fire has been spotted. He may or may not pick you up, depending on the type of aircraft. Fixed wing aircraft, or planes, will not usually land for you. Instead, they will mark your position and a chopper or ground crew will respond. Do not panic if the aircraft fly's away from your position. By rocking or wiggling the wings, it has been communicated that you've been seen. Remain in the area if safe to do so, because they will return.


Smoke Generator


Gary Benton has over 45 years of outdoor experience in camping, hiking, fishing, and other activities. He's no armchair survival man, he's walked the walk from the arctic to the desert and all the area in between. Gary has an associates degree in Search and Rescue, Survival Operations, a B.S. in Industrial Occupational safety, and all but his thesis completed for a M.S. in Counseling Psychology.
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