We are always trying to find better ways to signal for help when we find ourselves in a bad situation, and everything is always harder in the darkness of night. You might be injured or so dehydrated that you don’t have the strength to wave a flashlight to signal your location to people that are looking for you.
In this DIY project, we are going to look at how to build a buzz saw and talk about the advantages of using it to signal for help. Think of a buzz saw as a lighthouse, it creates a 360-degree light signature showing your location. A buzz saw can be seen from any direction whereas a flashlight is only visible if rescuers are in front of the beam. Also, it takes very little energy to keep a buzz saw spinning, and it can make a 6-foot diameter visual target at night.
Building a buzz saw is very easy! Start by taking a piece of cordage and cut it to a 3-foot length. You can either use 550 cord or take one of the strands out of it to make your buzz saw a lighter and smaller package.
Next, you will need two chem-lights with molded hooks on the top. These are used to tie the chem-lights to the cordage. After your chem-lights are tied off and secure, simply coil the cordage around them and store them in a safe place where the chem-lights will not be activated. You can secure them with a rubber band or a small piece of tape.
I choose to use one bright yellow or orange colored and one IR chem-light to build my buzz saws for a few reasons. First, the bright colors stand out and contrast any background or location you might be in. I have found using white chem-lights can look like moon reflections from far away and do not stand out as much. Second, I use an IR chem-light because most search and rescue teams, both on the ground and in the air, use night vision and the flashing of the IR buzz saw can be seen from afar.
Using a buzz saw is extremely easy and doesn’t take much energy to use. Both of these features are a bonus when you find yourself in a survival situation. To use the buzz saw, uncoil the string and let one chem-light fall in front of you. Using the other chem-light as a handle, simply start twirling your wrist making the first chem-light spin in front of you or above your head. Think of making a lasso or helicopter with your buzz saw.
To increase your success rate while using a buzz saw, you want to try to find as much clearing of vegetation as possible. Locations like open fields, openings on the side of a hill or higher terrain will help make the buzz saw more visible over distance. If you are hearing helicopters, try to get out from under any tree canopy.