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SOS Lights

In response to all those who have ever gotten hopelessly (sp?) lost, be it in a blizzard or the suburbs, or just in the middle of nowhere.
  [vote for,

Roof-mounted, up-facing light arrangements (probably ultra-bright xenon bulbs for fog penetration) with which you signal for aerial help.You enter a message into a dash-mounted keypad, like "HELP" "LOST" "HERE I AM", etc... and a small, stupidly simple computer translates your message into Morse Code and flashes the lights in that sequence.

So here's a scenario in which this comes in handy:

You're on a long roadtrip (poorly planned) in the middle of winter, and your route takes you through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.You find yourself in a heavy fog or snowfall, and miss the sign for your exit. You come to a sign with the same route number as the one you were looking for, but because of the reduced visibility you fail to notice that the sign is for State Road 90, instead of Interstate 90.

You get about 40 miles down the road before you realize you must've made a wrong turn. You turn back around, but on the way back the road splits in a Y, with no signs. You take the left fork when you should've gone right, and by the time you realize you're lost, you have no hope of getting back to the main road, especially in this weather.

You look on your map and notice there's a major airport not far from the last point you remember passing, which means lots of air traffic this time of year. Fortunately, you keep an emergency flare gun in your glove box. You stop where you are, get out and shoot off a flare (and somehow manage to avoid shooting your dumbass self) through a special opening in the roof. Then you punch an SOS message into the keypad on your dash, and the signal lights start flashing your message. The pilot of a passing airliner sees your flare and decides to make a pass over the area. He sees the bright signal lights on the roof of your vehicle, deciphers the message, and radios the tower at the airport with your location to send out a rescue party.

21 Quest, Feb 03 2007


       Probably a workable idea, but a radio transponder (think airplane black box) would probably be more effective. If you get trapped in a forest, during a blizzard, or if your vehicle is not upright, the roof mounted lights will be of no use guiding the resucers to you. Bun for the idea anyway (put it in your survival kit, ration it while you wait for the rangers.)
gardnertoo, Feb 03 2007

       Too complicated.

       What's wrong with GPS tracking?
kinemojo, Feb 03 2007

       GPS doesn't always work very reliably if there's heavy cloud cover. This is something that can be seen by a plane or helicopter flying below the cloud level. And what's wrong with complicated?
21 Quest, Feb 03 2007

       I agree with [gardnertoo]. You need an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon).

       Pilots don't learn Morse as a matter of course these days, either. In fact here in the UK, military, aviation and marine radio ops. have long since given up on Morse.
webfishrune, Feb 05 2007

       That would require getting out of the vehicle. And I guarantee it's not as bright as a xenon bulb. The idea here is for a means of visibly signalling for help without getting out of your vehicle and letting out the heat, which, when trapped in a snowstorm, is quite precious.

       I just noticed that I didn't specify in the post (I'll edit the post accordingly), that the flare can be launched through a special opening in the roof of the cab, with a rubber gasket to keep air from leaking out when you open it and stick the barrel through.
21 Quest, Feb 05 2007

       I subscribe to Darwin's theory.

       If you are hopelessly lost in bad weather, you more than likely deserve it especially if you can't afford to pay for rescue operations.
nuclear hobo, Feb 05 2007

       What the hell does being able to afford a rescue operation have to do with anything??? When has the Coast Guard or any other federally-funded rescue operation ever been known to research a person's ability to pay before rescuing them? Your comment makes no sense. Are you saying a poor guy who's lost cannot get rescued because he cannot afford to pay for the costs involved? That's completely idiotic!
21 Quest, Feb 05 2007

       I don't think there's anything wrong with this sort of idea, but no need to put it on the roof of your car. Letting heat out in a storm to put some sort of handheld unit on the rooftop would cause hardly any harm since it doesn't take much gas to warm you back up again. I bet people would buy a handheld unit, though. Heck, look around, they might already exist.... but I don't know how far away one can see a strobe light of practical and affordable power.
thsn_idrc, Feb 05 2007

       The vast majority of people who get *dangerously* lost do so out of stupidity by going into a remote area without proper planning, training, equipment and experience.

       If you climb Everest it is understood (at least by some) that you are undertaking a risky venture and that you are pretty much on your own. The same should apply to Mt. Hood, Ranier, camping in grizzly country, driving to Alaska in January, etc.

       This relates to Darwin because by rescuing the terminally stupid from themselves we are allowing them to reproduce and thus lower the genetic intelligence level of the species as a whole.

       Economics come into this as well - why should taxpayers foot the often multi-million dollar bill for rescuing someone from their own stupidity?
nuclear hobo, Feb 08 2007


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