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The Importance of Learning Primitive Communication Methods (survivorsupply.com)
71 points by evolution2 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments



The importance of this is almost nil, because you'll never find someone else who understands any of these at a time when it would actually be useful.

In a catastrophic situation, you have two options: hunker down, or walk out (never drive). Staying put means that you can stockpile a few weeks worth of food and water.

Walking out means that you might eventually get to a place not affected, but it requires a lot more preparation. Have cash, food + water for a few days, two flashlights, first aid kit, compass, paper maps in ziploc bags, a knife, axe, portable stove, pot, fork, spoon, nylon cord, poncho, polar fleece, spare leather shoes, socks, warm hat, multiple redundant sources of fire, and possibly some luxuries like a tarp if you can handle the weight (but better not to). And know something about survival in the woods.

You take your chances either way.


>> because you'll never find someone else who understands any of these at a time when it would actually be useful.

I understand what you are saying, but I'm going to make a guess here... you have never served in the military, have you? There is a whole subset of the population(veterans) around you, who had (from the article) smoke signals, hand signals, and morse code drilled into our heads. We may be rusty, but it's like riding a bike. It might not be as nifty as making a fire by rubbing 2 sticks together, but a couple of us each with a piece of broken glass can communicate miles away by signal flashing morse code.

Also, the article was about communicating. Your reply seems to be more about self-preservation during an emergency. There is some overlap in those 2 domains, but they are not the same.


> The importance of this is almost nil, because you'll never find someone else who understands any of these at a time when it would actually be useful.

No one understands AM/FM radio, NOAA weather radios, CB radio, walkie talkies, or ham radio?

Search and rescue pilots do not understand the body signals and ground symbols given in the FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual (also part of the Convention on International Civil Aviation), which should be studied as part of basic pilot training?

A bit of Googling turns up that three or six regularly spaced flashes of light, blasts from an airhorn, tweets on a whistle, gunshots, etc., is an internationally recognized distress signal in mountain regions, and seems to be well known among the relevant populations.

86% of all people age 15 and above in the world can read, so finding someone who can understand a physical message board should not be a problem. Physical message boards are in fact often used in disaster situations when other communications is down.


> In a catastrophic situation, you have two options: hunker down, or walk out (never drive).

If you're going to prep all of this stuff so you have options in case of an emergency:

> Have cash, food + water for a few days, two flashlights, first aid kit, compass, paper maps in ziploc bags, a knife, axe, portable stove, pot, fork, spoon, nylon cord, poncho, polar fleece, spare leather shoes, socks, warm hat, multiple redundant sources of fire, and possibly some luxuries like a tarp if you can handle the weight (but better not to).

it's probably better to prepare a bike (gravel or cyclocross for best flexibility and efficiency) as well so you can get to where you want to go 5-10x faster. You just have to wait a day until everyone has run out of gas so you can take the highway.


Nice list - tarp takes little no weight and allows you to sleep outside so I wouldn't pput it in the luxury section.

I'd also add a couple of emergency blankets for cold and hot weather, plus a foam mat to isolate your body from the floor. I'd drop the fork in favor of makeshift chopsticks, and/or cut the spoon into a spork. Wool for everything textile you wear.


Do you contest that synthetic shoes are ill-suited for a walk out attempt?


I'm saying that proper leather shoes tend to be built for better longevity, can take a beating, can be repaired easier, and you'll likely already be wearing synthetic shoes when the catastrophe occurs anyway.


You learn Morse Code by hearing it... not by seeing it. So ignore that chart on the website. You have to hear the rhythm to learn it. "Di dah dit dit" is what L sounds like, etc. Don't count dits and dahs (you won't be able to keep up). Learn the sounds. It's easy if you learn the sounds.

And visual code (ship signalling by light) is totally different from code sent over radio. Also, no one uses Morse Code anymore for anything meaningful. Ham radio hobbyist use it for radio contest, and occasional rag chewing, but the most meaningful code you'll hear today are repeaters or vessels identifying... this is callsign... but that's about it.

Great hobby and very simple way to communicate but not worth it for survival IMO. And I know Morse Code (and can use it when I have to) upto about 15 to 20 WPM. I am rusty though as I seldom have a need or desire to use it.


The article provides the entire Morse Code alphabet table, but neglects to mention 'SOS' the simplest and most important bit of Morse anyone should know.

I was surprised last night to learn my wife doesn't know how to signal SOS in Morse. Granted I was a boy scout for a few years, but I thought this was something everyone was taught. It's a sham that is apparently not the case.


it totally depends on where you are from if that is in any way relevant. for example, where i am from, i wouln't expect anyone to know it. so doing SOS in morse, would just get some frowns at best. and i couldn't conceive of a situation apart from total catastrophic civilisation meltdown where it would be needed. literally. and most cases which could occur to make that happen will render your electronics etc. useless so good luck sending it out...

if you're on a boat all day with a ham radio or such devices, sure it's useful to know. but in a big city or urban area with no general access to such devices? are you going to write dashes and dots on the wall???

not saying that it's useless to know. i learnt a lot of these things from my parents, and i would teach my children if i had any, but i can totally relate to people not caring about it in my area and finding it some niche interest for 'nerds' or so.


A building collapses, you're trapped in the rubble, you have just enough range of motion and strength to move your hand, and the dust has clogged your throat so you can barely breath, let alone yell to rescuers. How can you let people know you're there and alive? Tap out SOS.

Even if the people searching the rubble don't know SOS, they will still recognize that it's not a natural noise.


To play devil's advocate, any unnatural pattern would suffice. You could tap out 'shave and a haircut, two bits' and probably more people would recognize it. Bonus, you could tap the first part, and many people would probably think to tap the ending back to you.


I wish more people knew these yet I doubt anybody is going to understand I need medical assistance if I draw an X on the ground :-(


Pilots, Boy Scouts, anyone in military/fire/rescue/ police, and anyone who has had avi training (or other outdoor rec training) will recognize that immediately.


me too. if everyone knew morse then you could just beepbeepbupbeep at people all day


This brings back good memories of survival "events" when I was on my King's Scout journey during my high school years. Until one plays an agent in a constrained environment where tech resources are scarce that they truly appreciate having some experience on primitive methods like these. And they work surprisingly well too.


> We hear it all the time. “Don’t worry about the Internet if the grid goes down. The Internet was designed to survive thermonuclear war.” Unfortunately, the original design of the Internet was based on conventional, hard-wire phone lines that were surprisingly resilient to catastrophic failures. Today’s Internet is different. It’s a swamp of wireless modems, ethernet cables and numerous other devices dependent on a stable infrastructure that is both complex and fragile.

Is there any truth to this? There's a bunch of obvious technical errors (surviving nuclear war was never a design goal of the Internet, backbones have been fiber-optic since 1987, not clear why ethernet cables are supposed to be less reliable than telephone cables). Wireless is of course easier to interrupt than wired, but in most places last-mile links are still hardlines.

The real issue is that you need power and a functioning service provider, but that's always been true.




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