loudest whistle if you're lost in the woods

Loud Whistle For Your Emergency Survival Kit

A VERY LOUD whistle may be one of the most important items to have in your emergency survival kit. What’s the loudest? Well lets have a look.

Why is a loud whistle a good idea for an emergency kit? Because with relatively little effort you can whistle for help. The sound of a whistle will travel a LONG WAY compared to a shouting voice.

While it’s highly advisable to also include (in your kit) items such as a fire starter, portable water filter, cordage, knife, emergency blanket (‘space blanket’), tarp (shelter), container (water, boiling, etc.), compass & area-map, emergency food, headlamp, etc., the fact is that you might be in a situation whereby you cannot get out yourself – and you may need to be rescued.

Examples of when you might need a whistle for help

  • twisted ankle or worse during a hike in the forest
  • you get disoriented & lost while going off-trail
  • out on the lake and your boat engine dies
  • your boat sinks!
  • your car goes over the embankment, out of site, you can’t get out
  • (you get the idea…)

The problem is, how will first responders find you??

Here’s a simple but important little prep to add to your emergency kit:


The Loudest Whistle?

It is somewhat subjective of course. There are lots of loud whistles. Some whistle makers do list their specifications in decibels. Here are several to consider.

ACME Thunderer Official Referee Whistle

I have this one. I believe it’s the original sports whistle. Bought it some time ago. It is very loud, and will give you a significant advantage at being found during a rescue operation. There are louder one’s, but this is one of the originals.

Loud Whistle

“It is the best whistle I have ever owned. It’s worth every penny I paid for it. In the high-school gym it will make all the kids scream and put their hands over their ears, when given a hard blow. Teachers have been told to only blow softly because of this, because it hurts your ears pretty well. It is made from stainless steel and the construction quality and polished finish is Excellent. It is a lifetime item, and would be perfect for survival purposes in a 72 hour kit or preppers bag.”

said a reviewer

Here’s what it sounds like (careful, it’s loud),
ACME ‘Thunderer’ Whistle Sound

How loud is the ACME Thunderer whistle?

One reviewer said, “I used this whistle while serving as drum major for a college marching band. In a loud stadium with over 90,000 fans, this whistle can still be easily heard across the field or throughout the stands…”

This particular model (ACME Thunderer 60.5) evidently will produce a sound level of 60.5 decibels (dB), one-third mile away.

(If you’re lost in the woods (or any other scenario), this whistle WILL get noticed.)

Where is the ACME Whistle made?
They are made in Birmingham, UK.


These can be LOUD. Block your ears while whistling for help. Avoid ear damage.

A whistle on your keychain may also be a good idea! (personal security).

Personal Security Whistle. Especially for the ladies, having a loud whistle while running, jogging, or walking will likely break off a ‘typical’ attack scenario as attention is drawn toward the situation.

“I’ve seen many examples of women escaping assaults by their being able to draw attention to their dilemma by screaming, blowing a horn, activating a personal siren (once quite popular), as well as using the tried and true “police whistle”. All legal in any setting, especially when in distress.”

~ said Dennis the LEO on Modern Survival Blog

This whistle (and others) can be so loud that it can hurt your ears! Just saying…

Good to have on a boat for ‘just in case’.

Other Loud Whistles

The Fox 40 classic

Another popular whistle. Made in the USA. It’s the one they use in the NFL. A 3-chamber pealess design, it produces an amazing 115 dB at the whistle.

Fox 40 Classic Whistle

Loud Whistle

LuxoGear Emergency Whistle with Lanyard

I like this one, purposed as a Safety Whistle. Mrs.J and I have Kayaks, and we go out when we can during the warmer months. This one is perfect for a Kayak life vest jacket and/or lanyard around your neck. Boating. Fishing. Camping. Hiking. Hunting. Rescue Signaling. Lifeguard…

LuxoGear with Lanyard

There are a bazillion brands and models. My point is, it’s a great add-on for one’s emergency survival kit, and has many practical uses.


  1. i had a fox whistle years ago. thing was loud. i carried it on my keyring but later it broke off and i for whatever reason did not replace it, but now am thinking of doing that.

  2. – Agreed on the whistle. Can’t set it off accidentally, but it is loud and there when you want it. Mine is a black Fox 40. Only wish I could find one in bright orange. (If I drop something, I want it to help me as much as possible to find it quickly)
    – Papa S.

  3. Still have my issued ACME Thunderer…lot of the chrome has flaked off. It hangs on a key ring along with a diamond knife sharper attached to a zipper on my grab and go bag.

    Have another whistle, made of plastic, no pea, very high pitch sold under the Coghlan’s name. It has a molded in button compass and small thermometer…sorta gimmicky, but works…it is attached to the zipper on my jacket.

    1. ….now this is funny…didn’t know until I found that Coghlan’s whistle on Amazon, it also has a pull-out magnifying glass built in. Had it for probably 5+ years, never noticed (it was a gift)

  4. Great article, Ken! Whistles are so important. I purchased a multi pack Ravenox Aerowave from amazon and replaced all zipper pulls on all our jackets with these. I also tied one into the laces of my trail runners, work boots and hiking boots, in case of emergency. We have used these while camping and during large events.

  5. We also have the slim rescue Howler whistles on our back and fanny packs. They are orange plastic and produce 100 Db. I originally got the earlier Howler version at a local sporting goods store, now out of business, but you can buy these new improved slim ones on amazon. Also put one in the RV to summon the troops back for dinner, which turned out to be a great / fun way to teach the kids morse code.

  6. Wonderful post, thanks Ken. I have bought some of these really good referenced ones over the years as onsies and twosies, however for some reason they are hard to lay hands on when needed. Whistles are so useful for all sorts of things in addition to what might spring to mind for preparedness, for example as a formal “noisemaker” in boats, or when hiking in the woods with the grand kids, or for a daughter off at school headed to her car late at night from the library…or a bar, or to alert the household to imminent danger. The list is a long one.

    So on the theory that enough of something is better than zero of something wonderful, I bought a couple dozen of the inexpensive “referee whistles” and viola…I can always lay hands on one now. And cheerfully hand them out. And if it wanders off as they are wont to do, just grab another.

    Ken: if it’s not too much to ask to post a link to a volume (pun intended) offering where the gentle readers can get a deal on a box-full of whistles or two, I believe it would be helpful and in the spirit of the objectives of this website.

  7. I seem to have forgotten this and this article brings it to mind…

    Is it still 3 whistle blasts or horn honks or gunshots (or such like) that indicate someone is in trouble and needs help??? To be repeated at intervals until help arrives???

    I think I remember this from girl scouts long ago.

    1. SOS = … —…. three short blasts, three long, three short with no stopping between each sound. Use whistle, car horn, rocks, tree limbs, pans, basically anything to create the SOS for an emergency. Whistles are great for loudness and the sound truly carries.

    2. It’s been a long time,
      but if I remember crow calls correctly. Crows will caw three times for danger. They also have a great danger call and an all clear call.
      If you hear / see a crow, scan the area. You might see the various sentinels perched and watching. Listen — they will be talking to each other.
      Wish we had crows here. I’ll watch a tv program just to hear the wildlife in the background…

  8. Have more than one whistle. I keep one in every bag I have which are several. They take no room and could save your life and most are inexpensive and can be bought easily.
    I do suggest that you blow three short blasts instead of one long one. Three is the distress number, three fires, three flags, three poles lying perpendicular to each other, three short blasts on your whistle.

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