Ways to signal distress

Here you can find some of the internationally recognised signals that indicate distress and a vessel in need of assistance.

Use of these signals except for the purpose of indicating distress is prohibited.

Rockets or shells, throwing red stars fired one at a time at short intervals.  Rocket shell
A smoke signal giving off orange-coloured smoke  Orange coloured smoke signal
Slowly and repeatedly raising and lowering arms outstretched to each side.  Raising and lowering arms

A rectangle of the internationally accepted colour orange material with a black letter V

A black square and circle

orange material with a black letter V

A square flag having above or below it a ball or anything resembling a ball.

Square flag and ball symbols

The international Code Signal of Distress indicated by NC.

Code Signal of Distress

A rocket parachute flare or a hand-held flare showing a red light. See using distress flares.

Parachute flare

A signal made by any light or sound signalling method consisting of the group in the Morse Code - SOS.

A signal sent by radio consisting of the spoken word "mayday". See using marine radio.

Morse code

Activating an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB). See using distress beacons.


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