As the final rounds of Whistlemania begin, we start to get into the real tests of performance, those of distance, and this week’s test is for all the water lovers out there.
If you follow Survival Weekly on this blog, you have probably noticed more water rescues and fatalities as the weather warmed up. Common sense dictates that when it gets hot, more of us like to cool of in the water or play on it. Most fatalities are from drowning, so wearing a lifejacket is your best plan and ataching a whistle to said lifejacket may aid in a timely rescue.
Some of you have probably also heard that sounds carries better over water. In addition to the lack of obstacles, cooler air above the surface of the water actually slows the sound wave down causing it to bend, delivering more sound waves to the listener. Here is a quote from an article over on American Boating Association’s page: http://www.americanboating.org/sound.asp
According to Howard Shaw, Ph. D. and Cheryl Jackson Hall, Ph. D., “Experience suggests that sound, like light, travels (more or less) in straight lines. However, to the contrary, sound actually tends to curve downwards over a lake’s surface.”
“Sound traveling along straight lines would disperse quickly into the space above the lake. Instead, sound that “should” rise up and be lost typically curves back down to the lake/ground level. Therefore, it sounds louder than it “should.” This is a well-known and easily demonstrated observation, measurable out there on real lakes.”
Test: Paddle out to known distances and by the process of elimination, determine the maximum ranges for the whistles. Distances were determined by GPS and tests were done at 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 3/4 mile, and 1 mile.
The conditions were sunny with a high temp of 87 degrees. Initially, the was a breeze blowing towards the observers, but conditions during the 1/2 mile to 1 mile tests were calm.
Ambient noise from birds, locusts, and waves was present and tests were temporarily stopped to allow for boat traffic to pass. The observers were positioned on the point of a peninsula that extends halfway across Calderwood Lake for their listening post and were asked to comment via radio if the whistle could be heard and if it could be confused with other noises.
Three blasts of each whistle were done at each distance until a couple of kayakers appeared out of nowhere to rescue me. After that, I switched to two blasts and each whistle was given a second chance at the distance it failed.
Below is a picture of the test site with the orange arrow being the observers a mile away. Our lakes in the mountains are narrow and long, so the possibility of sound funneling can be addressed by someone smarter than me in the comment section if you wish.
The observers: Special thanks goes to Brian and Laura Osgood, Sierra McAllister, and Dr. Ken Miller of the Blount County Rescue Squad. While patrolling Highway 129, a.k.a. The Dragon’s Tail, I managed to catch them in some down time and they were happy to wade into the melee of rescue whistles. These are real world rescuers and this team comprises a good mix of hearing ability. Dr. “Hunk” Miller, age 72, has significant high frequency hearing loss from years of shooting, military service, and women screaming about his good looks. He was wearing his hearing aids during the test, as he would on an actual incident.
Sierra, age 18, like all young adults may be guilty of cranking up the tunes too loud, but as expected had the keenest ears. Brian and Laura, both in their mid 40’s, represented what we all considered to be the average hearing ability of a responder.
I have had the pleasure to work with the BCRS professionals on several incidents on the Dragon’s Tail and one remote rescue in the park that required the use of their vessel and can’t say enough about their dedication, skill, and professionalism. Every year, BCRS provides nearly 32,000 lifesaving volunteer hours and consistently places in the top three in statewide rescue competitions.
If you or anybody you love rides motorcycles or drives sports cars, these are the men and women that will be saving their lives on the Dragon if the unthinkable occurs. They do all this and more with a volunteer staff and relying solely on donations from the community for their operation!!
BigPig Outdoors would like to thank the Blount County Rescue Squad for their service in the community and their assistance in Whistlemania and has made a $150 donation to their organization as a token of our appreciation and will be teaching a free survival course for their staff this winter.
If you, your family, or organization have found the information from Whistlemania valuable, I urge you to click on the link below and contribute any amount to their cause. Even if you can only donate the price of an average whistle, it all helps.
Donations may also be mailed to:
Blount County Rescue Squad
P.O. Box 218
Alcoa, TN 37701
The battle for the open water champion begins…
Well almost… Starting at 1/4 mile Doc Miller could not hear a majority of the whistles. To save typing, assume that Doc Miller didn’t hear any of them unless noted and that includes the 1/4 mile tests.
“Heard up to” – Means that all three observers without hearing damage could hear it at that distance, unless noted differently.
Jetscream Micro – Heard up to 1/2 mile. Failed at 3/4 mile.
ACME 660 – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.
Fox 40 Classic – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.
ACME Tornado 635 – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Observers commented that it could be confused with a car horn. Failed at 1 mile.
Hammerhead – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Observers commented that sound was faint. Failed at 1 mile.
Tin Whistle – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Observers commented that sound was faint and bird like. Failed at 1 mile.
Fox 40 Mini – Heard up to 3/4 mile by 2 out of 3 observers. Failed at 1 mile.
AMK or SOL or Fox 40 Micro – Heard up to 1/2 mile. Failed at 3/4 mile.
ACME Tornado 636 – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.
SOL Slim Rescue Howler – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Observers commented could be confused with bird. Failed at 1 mile.
ACR – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.
Coghlan’s 5 in 1 Survival Aid – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.
Zipper Pull Whistle – Heard up to 1/2 mile. Reported as faint. Failed at 3/4 mile.
Coghlan’s 4 in 1 Whistle – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Reported as bird-like. Failed at 1 mile.
Sternum Strap Whistle – Heard up to 1/2 mile. Reported as faint. Heard by 2 out of 3 at 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.
LMF Swedish Firesteel Army 2.0 – Heard up to 1/2 mile. Reported as faint and bird-like. Failed at 3/4 mile.
Windstorm – Heard up to a mile. Rated as a 2 out of 3 on loudness at that distance. On several blows, the pea got temporarily stuck and required another blow to free up.
Hammerhead Mighty – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.
Lifejacket Whistle – Heard up to 3/4 mile including Doc Miller!! Heard at 1 mile by all except Doc. Rated at 1 mile as 2 out of 3 for loudness.
FOX 40 Eclipse – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.
Storm – Heard up to 1 mile. Rated a 3 out of 3 for loudness. Doc Miller heard this one at 1/2 mile, but no further. On several blows, the pea got temporarily stuck and required another blow to free up.
Scotty Lifesaver – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Reported as faint. Failed at 1 mile.
ACME Tornado 2000 – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.
FOX 40 Sonic Blast – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.
UST Jetscream – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.
Whistles for Life – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.
Promo whistle – Heard up to 3/4 mile by 2 out 3 observers. Reported that it sounded cow-like. Failed at 1 mile.
FOX 40 Sharx – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile. Doc Miller heard this one at 1/4 mile, but no further.
ACME Cyclone 888 – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.
ACME 649 – Heard up to 3/4 mile, including Doc Miller. Reported as being bird or horn like. Failed at 1 mile.
BigPig’s Canoe Paddling, Sunburned Head, Whistle Blowing Observations:
- I have done some unsanctioned testing during classes in the woods and the difference between open water and the woods is surprising.
- At a distance of 1 mile, all observers could hear me yell and stated it was louder than the whistle. My voice would have gone out if done repeatedly, but an occasional yell along with whistling is a good plan.
- The average age of rangers in the Smokies and BCRS volunteers is in the mid-30’s. High frequency hearing loss often accompanies aging. Consideration needs to be given to the fact that a lot of our young veterans return with hearing damage and many serve among the ranks in Search and Rescue organizations.
- Both low frequency whistles, the Lifejacket and the ACME 649, were heard by Doc Miller up to 3/4 mile away. As stated earlier, even with the use of his hearing aids, he could not hear the other whistles with the exception of the Sharx at 1/4 mile and the Storm up to 1/2 mile.
- Our testing day would represent ideal conditions. Wind and waves would surely decrease the observed distances.
- I underestimated the Lifejacket whistle. It is old and ultra cheap, but gave a great showing.
- Don’t carry the Promo whistle if you plan on getting lost in dairy country…
Stay tuned as Whistlemania continues when we move back onto the land and head into the woods for the distance test…
Catch up with previous rounds:
“Gamemaker” Gabby prepares the contestants…