SHTF essentials: Here’s why you need a survival whistle in your bug-out bag
By Zoey Sky // May 30, 2023

The movie "Titanic" is based on a true event and its ending highlights the importance of this simple but lifesaving item: a survival whistle. If the character named Rose didn't use her whistle to alert rescuers, she would have died before the movie ended.

Emergencies can happen when you least expect them, and it is important to be prepared for them. Whether it's a natural disaster, a medical emergency or a dangerous situation, having the right tools in your survival bag can make the difference between life and death.

A survival whistle is a cheap but very useful gear that many preppers often overlook. This article will talk about why you need to secure a survival whistle in your bug-out bag (BOB). (h/t to

A brief history of whistles

Whistles have been used in the past for various purposes. The ancient Greeks used whistles during the Olympic games to signal the start and end of different events.

In the Middle Ages, shepherds used whistles to communicate with their dogs. Whistles were also used on ships as a means of communication between crew members.

In more recent times, whistles have been used during emergencies.

During World War I, soldiers used whistles to signal for help when they were trapped in trenches or injured on the battlefield.

During World War II, air raid wardens used whistles to alert people to take cover during bombing raids.

Today, survival whistles are used by campers, hikers and preppers to call for help in emergency situations.

Benefits of having a whistle in your survival or bug-out bag

When SHTF, you will be glad to have a whistle in your bag. A whistle can help you attract attention when you're in desperate need for help.

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If you are lost or injured in a forest or trapped under rubble after an earthquake, blowing a whistle instead of shouting can help rescuers find you more quickly. What's more, it takes less energy to blow a whistle than to keep shouting for help over and over again.

Something as small and unassuming as a whistle can also potentially save lives. When SHTF and you need medical assistance, blowing a whistle loudly can quickly alert a person nearby and prompt them to take immediate action.

Different types of whistles for your bug-out bag

There are different types of whistles that you can use during emergencies:

Pealess whistles 

Pealess whistles are popular because they do not have a pea inside that can get stuck or clogged with dirt or debris.

Electronic whistles

If you are unable to blow a whistle due to health issues, you can get an electronic whistle. This kind of whistle produces a loud, high-pitched sound without the need for blowing.

Traditional whistles

A traditional whistle with a pea produces a distinct sound that can be heard from far away.

When choosing which type to purchase, consider the environment in which you will be using the whistle.

How to use a whistle efficiently in an emergency situation

Here are some ways to use a whistle that many recognize as emergency signals:

  • Blowing three short blasts is a universally recognized signal for distress. If you are lost in the wilderness or trapped in some rubble in a building, blow three short blasts for three seconds in succession to indicate that you need help. Take a breath or two between each blast so the sound has enough time to travel through the air, then repeat. Pause for a couple of seconds after completing the three-blast pattern, then repeat for as long as you can to give yourself the best chance of being heard and found.
  • Blowing one long blast can help your group find you faster. It can also help rescuers pinpoint your location.
  • If you are too weak, blow short bursts using your whistle to attract attention, especially in noisy or windy conditions.
  • Use your whistle to blow a distress signal. Blow the universal signal for SOS: three short blasts, three long blasts and three short blasts.

When SHTF and you need rescuing, blow the whistle loudly then pause to catch your breath and listen for a response. This will help you conserve energy and allow you to listen for any communication from rescuers if they are near your location.

Take the time to incorporate a survival whistle into your preps. This could help save your life or someone else's during an emergency.

While preparing your BOB, decide what type of whistle would be better for you and your loved ones to carry. Purchase several whistles and store them in strategic areas, like in your vehicle, key rings, BOB, purses and everyday carry (EDC) kits.

Practice using your whistle so you can gauge how much to blow into it to get the loudness you are looking for. (Related: Survival essentials: 11 Ways to communicate after SHTF.)

Tips for choosing the best whistle

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a whistle:


The volume of the whistle is very important since you need it to be loud enough to attract attention but not so loud that it hurts your ears when you blow into it.


The durability of the whistle is also important because it must be able to withstand rough handling and exposure to the elements.

Personal preferences 

You should also consider personal preferences when choosing a whistle. Some people prefer pealess whistles because they are easier to clean and maintain, while you may want to use traditional whistles with peas because they produce a distinct sound.

Carrying a whistle is a simple but effective way to increase your chance of survival when dealing with an emergency situation.

Whether you are hiking in the wilderness or living in an area prone to natural disasters, having a whistle with you can help rescuers locate you faster and potentially save your life.

Visit for more on useful items you need to have in your bug-out bag.

Watch the video below for tips on the best prepper and survival items to buy at flea markets.

This video is from the Daily Videos channel on

More related stories:

Prepper must-haves: 17 Items a college student needs for spring break.

Prepping checklist: Camping essentials to pack in your survival bag.

An emergency supply checklist for beginner preppers.

Sources include:

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