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Learn about hand signals for help


“Lifesaving Gestures: The Comprehensive Hand Signal for Help Guide”

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In today’s world, where danger can lurk in unexpected places, knowing how to discreetly signal for help is not just useful—it can be lifesaving. This comprehensive guide delves into the hand signal for help, a simple yet powerful tool for kids and adults alike to communicate distress without drawing attention. We’ll explore its origins, how to perform it, and the crucial role it plays in safety and survival.

Introduction to the Hand Signal for Help

The hand signal for help is a non-verbal cue designed to allow individuals to indicate that they are in danger or distress. It was developed as a response to the increasing rates of domestic violence and abduction, providing a silent plea for assistance that could be recognized worldwide.

Understanding the Signal

The gesture is straightforward:

  1. Extend your hand with your palm facing outward.
  2. Tuck your thumb into your palm.
  3. Fold your fingers down over your thumb, trapping it.

This signal has gained global recognition and can be used in various situations, from video calls to public spaces, making it an essential part of personal safety strategies.

The Importance of Discreet Help Signals

In situations where vocalizing distress could escalate the danger, discreet help signals are invaluable. They provide a way for victims of abuse, kidnapping, or other threats to seek help without alerting the perpetrator.

Teaching the Signal to Children and Adults

Educating both children and adults on how to use the hand signal for help is crucial. Regular practice and reinforcement can ensure that it becomes a reflex action in times of need.

Recognizing and Responding to the Signal

If you observe someone using the hand signal, it’s important to understand the appropriate steps to take. Contacting local authorities or emergency services can make the difference between a life saved and a tragedy.

Emergency Contacts and Resources

In South Africa, there are several emergency numbers to be aware of:

Lifesaving Gestures: Start Learning

What Is the Signal for Help?

The signal or sign for help is a simple hand signal that people can make to let others know that they’re in some kind of danger and need help. It originated during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people were stuck inside due to lockdowns and quarantine rules, and the rates of domestic abuse began to rise in many areas around the world.

It was the Women’s Funding Network and the Canadian Women’s Foundation, together, who came up with the signal. They wanted to create a way for women in danger, as well as children and anyone else who felt scared or threatened, to ask for help in a silent and subtle way, rather than having to yell it out, dial 911, or verbally say what was happening to them.

The gesture is quick and easy to perform:

  • First, open the hand and hold it up, with all fingers pointing out.
  • Next, tuck the thumb into the palm.
  • Finally, wrap the other fingers over the thumb.
lifesaving gestures

The hand signal can be used in lots of different locations and situations, like on a video call with a friend or family member, in a social media post, or just out and about in public. Knowing how to signal for help or what to look for could be enough to save a life. In 2021, a teenage girl used the signal to get help after she’d been kidnapped. She was rescued later on, unharmed.

Signaling for Help When I’m Unsafe in Public

The universal hand signal for help is a very useful way to get help if you need it, but it’s not the only option. There are several other methods you can use to signal for help or protect yourself in public places.

Lifesaving Gestures: The Angel Shot

If you’re in a bar and need to signal for help, ask the bartender for an “angel shot”. This is another widely-known signal that bar staff are trained to understand. It’s a simple sign that you feel in danger, and it’s very helpful to use if someone is harassing you, or you worry that your drink might have been spiked.

There are even a couple of variations on the angel shot to try. The “angel shot neat” means that you want someone to escort you to your vehicle, while “angel shot with ice” means that you’d like the staff to call a ride for you. An “angel shot with lime”, meanwhile, is a sign that the staff should call the cops.

Lifesaving Gestures: Asking for Angela

Another international help gesture that is used around the world and has recently been talked about on social media sites like TikTok is the “asking for Angela” signal. This idea started off in the UK but has spread to other parts of the world. It launched back in the early 21st century and involved asking staff at a bar, cafe, or another place for a person called “Angela”.

It’s essentially a simple code phrase to let the staff know you’re in trouble and need help. They can then take the necessary steps like calling the police or escorting you away from the building.

Having a One-Sided Call

Having a one-sided call is another method to try. This basically involves holding your phone to your ear and conversing with a pre-recorded message of someone asking things like “When are you going to be home?” You can record the message and keep it on your phone to use when you feel in danger. Any possible attackers nearby should be deterred if they think someone else is waiting for you or talking to you.

Are There Other Silent Ways to Ask For Help?

Yes, there are some other silent distress signals to help you get aid if you’re in trouble. There are technological gadgets like smart alarms, along with phone apps you can set up to send your GPS location to a friend or family member when you feel endangered. One such app is Findmykids, which not only allows you to track your child’s location but also offers a wide range of features for ensuring safety and peace of mind.

With Findmykids, you can set up geofence zones to receive instant alerts when your child enters or leaves specified areas. This feature is especially helpful for monitoring their movements and ensuring their safety during school hours. The app also provides a history of your child’s location, enabling you to track their whereabouts throughout the day.

Moreover, Findmykids offers an SOS button that your child can press in case of an emergency. Once activated, it immediately sends an alert to your phone, allowing you to respond quickly and take necessary actions. Additionally, the app provides a real-time location tracking feature, which is incredibly useful for finding your child in crowded places or unfamiliar surroundings.

Stay safe and connected with Findmykids—your child’s safety is just a click away!

What to Do if You Notice Someone’s Signal?

If you see someone use the hand signal for help, it’s important to know how to respond in an appropriate way without putting the person at risk. If it happens in a video chat, for example, you shouldn’t respond immediately and start saying things like “Do you need help?” because the abuser may be able to hear you.

Instead, contact the person in a more discreet way, like text or social media, and ask simple yes or no questions to make it easier for them to respond. Questions you could ask include “Are you safe?” “Do you need me to call 911?” and “Can I call a shelter for you?”

If you see the sign in a public place, the best option is usually to find a nearby police. Call the police and let them know. Be discreet and try to find out any information that could be useful to the police, like the license plate of a vehicle if the person gave you the signal through the window of a car, for example.

Lifesaving Gestures: Resources for Help

If you’re a victim of domestic violence, there are various organizations out there ready to help:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
  • National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV): 1-303-839-1852

Lifesaving Gestures FAQs

What Is the Universal SOS Signal?

SOS is a Morse code signal that can be understood and used around the world. It consists of three dots, three dashes, and three dots.

Conclusion: Empowerment Through Knowledge

Lifesaving Gestures

The hand signal for help is more than just a gesture; it’s a tool of empowerment. By familiarizing ourselves and our communities with this signal, we can create a safer environment for everyone.

Remember, in an emergency, every second counts. Knowing the hand signal for help could be the key to survival.


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