Morse Code and the Phonetic Alphabet: Forgotten Survival Tools

    What may appear to be an outdated form of communication could actually wind up saving your life one day. Often overlooked, Morse code and the phonetic alphabet should be understood by all those seeking adventures and dabbling in the outdoors.

    Morse Code

    Morse code is a little bit like what texting is to us now, however it’s a forgotten language. The great thing about it is that it can save you in a situation where it’s impossible to communicate either verbally or by telephone. It’s one of the quickest ways to communicate and there are few codes you need to learn for a survival situation.

    The internationally recognized ‘SOS’ is a signal for distress, coined by the German government. In Morse code, it appears as · · · – – – · · · and can be achieved through sound or light, like a torch. If you learn one signal, this should be it.

    Fortunately, for the more complicated Morse code signals, modern technology is our savior. Apps like The Morse Code Trainer and Morse Code Flash­light App will allow you to brush up on your skills, or even signal for you. This can save you valuable time and energy in an emergency situation.


    Phonetic Alphabet

    The phonetic alphabet, or the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet, is one of the easiest ways to communicate the letter of the English alphabet. This comes in handy when you may be communicating through a crackly radio or exchanging dialogue with foreign people. There are several letters in the English language which can easily be misunderstood, like ‘M’ and ‘N’.

    The following is the phonetic alphabet. It could be handy for you to take this on a sheet of paper, should you ever need to communicate in this way.

    • A: Alpha
    • B: Bravo
    • C: Char­lie
    • D: Delta
    • E: Echo
    • F: Fox­trot
    • G: Golf
    • H: Hotel
    • I: India
    • J: Juli­ette
    • K: Kilo
    • L: Lima
    • M: Mike
    • N: Novem­ber
    • O: Oscar
    • P: Papa
    • Q: Que­bec
    • R: Romeo
    • S: Sierra
    • T: Tango
    • U: Uni­form
    • V: Vic­tor
    • W: Whiskey
    • X: X-ray
    • Y: Yan­kee
    • Z: Zulu

    Be aware, though, that different accents mean different ways of pronouncing certain letters. For example, a French person may pronounce Charlie as “Sharlee”. That said, the phonetic alphabet is likely to aid any language barriers.


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