9 Silent Communications Systems - Shhhh! (2023)

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Silence is golden, and within a survival situation, silence may very well save your life. What I’m referring to are the survival situations in which you’re being hunted, whether directly or indirectly. It’s times like these that you need to know a few silent communications systems.

Perhaps the Golden Horde is systematically looting properties out in the country that it comes across. Maybe we’re talking about a foreign invasion. Perhaps it’s home invaders.

Whatever the case may be, it’s time for a radio silence order. You need to be quiet, and you know that your life depends upon it. However, there are also times when it’s essential you communicate some piece of important – potentially even life-saving – information to somebody else.

For times such as these, what you want is a silent communications system, so let’s take a look at what some of the best of these systems are for the prepper.

1) Written Word

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Don’t neglect written word. It’s been used forever to communicate important news to people throughout history, and it still has value today. If you find yourself in a situation where radio contact is not safe, your retreat has been compromised, it’s time to go now, yet your brother is deep in the woods foraging then leaving a letter detailing what has happened and where you’re going (perhaps in a pre-discussed secret location) may very well be what you need to disseminate information without putting anyone at risk.

Maybe you just need to hold up a sign with the phrase “3 Attackers Across Street” out your window to for your neighbor to see. Whatever your situation may be, don’t neglect the power of written word to tell others what they need to know.

2) Sign Language

Out of all the tips on this list, this is the most labor-intensive. I’ve fiddled around with learning sign language in the past, and I can assure you it’s just as difficult as learning any other language. It takes time, dedication, and lots of practice.

That being said, should you master this ability you do have a silent means of communicating with one another provided you can see each other. Perhaps this one is a bit overkill, but it is a method, and we’re laying out all the options for you.

3) Military Hand Commands

This is apt to be the most important silent communication you can learn if you’re in a fight post-disaster. It takes a bit of practice, but these are generally rather intuitive.

You can learn more about military hand signals through the military manual on the subject:

Visual Signals TC 3-21.60: Army Guide to Hand Signals

  • Army, Department of the (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

With military hand commands you can tell other members of your team how many attackers are present, where they’re located, what the plan of action is, and so on.

4) Smoke Signals

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Personally, I think the best means of using smoke signals for communication is to have the presence of smoke mean one thing. If you are needing a way to say, “Now’s the time to do X” (think Katniss and Rue in The Hunger Games) to somebody who’s at a distance away during the daytime, a smoke signal may very well be the best option.

It’s easy to do and easy to understand. It’s hard to beat that.

Likewise, at night, a fire signal could be used to denote meaning, but that idea also crosses over into…

5) Light Signals

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This is the night version of a smoke signal. Think Paul Revere’s ride – “One if by land, two if by sea.” Also think of the mountain beacons in The Lord of the Rings, or the ‘I’m ok’ signals from A Quiet Place.

If from your location you can’t necessarily go outside yelling that the British are coming, perhaps notifying somebody who can – and all with a something as simple as a candle – is a way to get your message across.

6) Hobo Symbols

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This is an old-timey method that’s actually a lot of fun. The hobos of yesteryear (think the 1930s) created an entire system of symbols so that they could communicate with one another. They would put graffiti up of some obscure looking symbol that meant nothing to non-hobos, but that gave a good deal of information to other hobos.

Examples include symbols telling hobos where to beg for food, what areas were dangerous, and so on. The cool thing about this is you don’t necessarily need to use the hobo symbols proper either. You could easily come up with your own set of symbols to communicate with your group should something happen.

You don’t necessarily have to have 100 different symbols to memorize either. Why not just start with three? One symbol could indicate you’ve evacuated, another that somebody’s hurt, and a third that you’re low on food. Keep it simple.

7) Flags

This method is ancient and comes from old sailors and early telegraph systems. There are two main ways you can do this too. The first would be through a set of flag positions to create an alphabet rendition. This takes a lot of training though for all parties.

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A much easier alternative would be to use flags that are already in use in the same manner in which the Jolly Roger signaled who was a pirate ship and who was not. You know how the American flag hung upside down is a sign of distress? That’s the kind of flag symbolism I’m talking about.

You could easily incorporate this with an American flag, your state’s flag, a Gadsen flag, and perhaps your county’s flag as well. A system could be set up where the American flag means all is well, your state flag means you have injured, the Gadsen could signify attackers are present, and your county’s flag could mean you’re running low on food.

Really, you could make this system whatever you want – the above is just to get your imaginative juices flowing – but hopefully this helps to illustrate the point.

8) Morse Code with Lights

Morse code is difficult to learn, but there are options available out there to assist in the process. We discuss what some of these are at our prior article here.

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This is actually a really fun way to communicate with others and if you have a group of older ham radio aficionados within your group, they probably already have a firm grasp on Morse code (it used to be a requirement to be licensed).

9) Non-Descript Signals

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These are cool and a lot of fun to come up with. Perhaps leaving a Pokemon card on your kitchen counter is a signal to retreat latecomers that you had to evacuate. Maybe keeping both of your hands in your pockets tells others you’re being coerced. Could swapping the location of two pictures on your wall tell others you went to Retreat A?

There are all kinds of cool signals that could be used for silent communication here that wouldn’t give the outsider the faintest notion of a clue that a message was being disseminated.

Silent Communications Systems Summary

I think ham radio is awesome. There are many benefits that can be derived from the ability to communicate and receive information from great distances away. But as pointed out earlier within this article, there are times in which verbal communication is not safe.

We can find examples of such from the War for Independence (Paul Revere), modern military night operations, the Jews of the Holocaust, gulag prisoners, and more. History has proven the benefits of non-verbal communication.

I don’t think you have to go all out here and master every item on this list. That would be rather extreme. But to have some concept of what some of the forms of silent communication are, and to be able to put a few in place could easily keep you alive in a post-disaster, WROL world.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Are there other forms of silent communication we missed? Have you any experience with silent communication methods in the past? Are there other examples from history of silent communication we left out? Let us know in the comments below!

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