Old School Communications

For as long as people have been on this Earth, they’ve been devising various methods of communication. Even in ancient times, people were able to communicate with one another across great distances by employing some of these methods. While technology has certainly changed things, especially in recent times, making long-distance communication as easy as the click of a button, many of the old forms of communication are still practiced today.

Some of these forms of communication can be incredibly useful, even in this modern world of ours. That’s because sometimes disaster strikes, and when that happens we find ourselves in dangerous situations. While we’d like to believe that our cell phones and tablets will always be there to get us out of a jam, they’re useless if the power’s out. So, with an eye toward how you can communicate in an emergency of this nature, here are some old-fashioned communications forms you can start using today –

Morse Code

Named for its inventor Samuel Morse, Morse code was invented in 1836 for use on telegraph wires. It relies upon a standardized code of pulses, short and long, that can be translated into letters. The most common of these codes you’ve probably heard many times in your life, three short pulses, followed by three long pulses, followed by three short pulses again, which stands for S.O.S. or “Save Our Ship.”

Morse code is easy to learn, because it’s as simple as memorizing the pulse patterns that correspond to each letter and number. For this reason, it is still employed today for a wide variety of purposes. Also, because the code is simple, it can be used both aurally and visibly. You could, for example, use pulses of light from a flashlight to transmit a Morse code message to another person. Learning Morse code is incredibly useful, and it could prove to be a lifesaver if you ever find yourself in a dire emergency situation.

Learn Morse Code

Online Practice Morse Code Machine

Signal Flags

Of course, there’s the universally recognized white signal flag for surrender, but there are many more signal flags that are employed, even today. On the high seas, ships often make use of signal flags to communicate vital information to one another. These signal flags can do everything from communicating that a ship is transporting dangerous cargo, to signaling that there is a man overboard.

If you plan to be taking to the high seas yourself, then it might be worth your while to research signal flags. When you’re out in international waters, it may not be possible to communicate effectively over the radio due to the language barrier. Signal flags, however, know no language barriers, which is why they still see regular use on the ships of countries from all over the world.

And there’s no law they can’t be used on land.  Remember the old land battles in Europe and here in American when we fought the British?  Flags were used to convey orders to the various pieces to the military puzzle.

International Maritime Signal Flags

Emergency Flares

Whereas once ancient peoples had to rely on setting fires in order to signal from a distance, now signal flares are readily available to the general public at local convenience stores and hardware shops. While the technology may be different, the point is the same. A flare is a basic means of signaling to other people. In certain circumstances, different colored flares may mean different things, but for everyday use, a flare is a flare. For example, there are roadside flares, which drivers can employ to signal to oncoming traffic that they’re disabled on the side of the road. This helps those oncoming drivers to know that there’s trouble ahead, and it helps the disabled driver avoid the potential for being injured by an oblivious oncoming driver.

In addition to this, there are flares that are shot into the air with the aid of a flare gun. If you plan on finding yourself in remote areas for any reason, you’ll likely want to invest in one of these. The flare can be shot high into the air where it will be visible for miles, hopefully attracting the attention of an onlooker who can direct aid to your position.

Of course, if all else fails, you can always use Mother Nature’s flare – building a giant fire – as many before you have done throughout the course of history.

And consider where they’ll be used. The desert is nothing more than an ocean of sand and rock. You have long distances of open space with which to use your flares effectively.


For Boomers and others that have settled into rural areas. these flares and flags in particular, can be used to communicate with your distant neighbors.  If you’re among like-minded people, consider establishing an, “early warning system” whereby, flags, flares, klaxons or other methods are used to alert others in the area of impending danger from outsiders or natural events (flash floods, for instance).

Communicating the Military Way (alpha, military alpha, Morse Code and signal flag comparisons)



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