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Worldwide Distress Frequencies and Phone Numbers

Part of the Wilderness Survival For Dummies Cheat Sheet

To call for help in an emergency situation, you can use any radio transmitter you have access to, and you can tune it to any frequency to call for help. When in need of rescue, the law gives you unlimited access to radios and their frequencies. However, you’re much more likely to get a faster response if you send a distress signal on a distress frequency. The following is a list of the radios you’re likely to run into and distress frequencies used in different parts of the world:

  • VHF Radio: Channel 16

  • CB Radio: Channel 9

  • Family Radio Service (FRS): UHF: Channel 1

  • Single-sideband and amateur (ham) radio: 2182 kHz, 14.300 MHz, 14.313 MHz

  • Air band Radio: 121.5 MHz, 243MHz

  • UHF Radio (Australia): Channel 5

  • Cellphones: Try dialing 911 on your cellphone, even if you think you’re not within coverage. Then try texting someone who you know checks his texts. Text is better than voice in many cases because it can get through when voice can’t. If you have plenty of battery power, send a text, and then leave the unit on as you travel. The unit searches for reception until it transmits. The higher you are, the greater the possibility that your cellphone will make contact with a tower.

    • 911: U.S., Canada, Central America (partial), Philippines

    • 066, 060, 080, 911: Mexico.

    • 112: Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, India, South Korea, South Africa, Israel

    • 999, 120: China (PRC)

    • 110: Jamaica

    • 190, 191: Brazil

    • 1669, 191: Thailand

    • 113, 115: Vietnam, Chile

  • SOS in Morse code: . . . - - - . . . (3 short tones, 3 long tones, 3shorts)

  • International distress signal code word: Mayday, spoken three times

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