International distress signals

The use of any of the following International Distress Signals are for DISTRESS purposes ONLY

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Any signal likely to be confused with these is PROHIBITED

  • Hand held flare or rocket parachute flare showing a Red light or Red Stars thrown by rocket, one at a time at short intervals
  • Slowly & repeatedly raising & lowering outstretched arms
  • Orange smoke from a smoke signal
  • Continuous sounding of any fog signaling apparatus
  • Gun or Explosive signal fired at intervals of one minute
  • Square flag with a ball or round object above or below it.
  • Flames on a vessel (e.g. burning oil in a barrel)
  • Two tone alarm signal transmitted on the radio (e.g. EPIRB)
  • SOS - morse signal by radio or hand lamp ( ... --- ... )
  • The flags N C see our Flags page
  • Radio signal as follows

MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY followed by
MAYDAY, vessel name, position, nature of distress, number of persons aboard, assistance required, vessel name, Over.

If you see any of the above international distress signals contact the Coastguard immediately by dialing 999 or 112

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