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Survival Lab: Vital Signs

When you’re lost or injured, you need a foolproof way to get your rescuers’ attention. Ted’s testing team tried more than 25 devices—here are their ratings of 9 top tools.

REFLECTION
Purpose-Built
FLASHIEST Coghlan’s 3-by-2-inch glass mirror ($12; 2.2 oz.; coghlans.com) flashed spotters from 2.5 miles away and
survivalists say it’s visible from 20 miles in good conditions. The glass is scratch resistant and the sight enables pinpoint aiming. Ounce counters: Try AMK’s Sol Rescue Flash
Mirror ($10; .4 oz.; adventuremedicalkits.com).

Survival Stand-in
BUZZ WORTHY Cell phone screens are reflective enough to shine a signal. Large screens work best, but even a broken clamshell alerted spotters from a mile and a half. Aiming is tricky
(see below). Unscratched screens bounce light most effectively; use a screen protector, but peel it off when signaling.

DIY
LAST-DITCH No mirror? When buffed with a little spit, the shiny inside of a snack wrapper caught enough rays to alert spotters over a mile and a half away. Aiming is hard; pull
the wrapper tight and wave it overhead like crazy. Repeat.

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