Emergency whistles sometimes called survival whistles, emit a loud blast of sound that others can hear up to a mile away. So, if you need help, you’ll be sure to get the attention and assistance you need.
Every home should have an emergency whistle as part of its disaster supply kit. Should you get hit by an earthquake, hurricane, or tornado, a whistle is critical for finding family members and signaling rescue workers.
When examining the best survival whistles on the market, we considered a number of factors, including loudness, durability, and ease of use.
If you find yourself lost, trapped, or under attack, you can rely on any of these options.
Durable and loud, the Sonik Blast is the best overall whistle for safety and survival in any setting.
Best Emergency Whistle Reviews
Best Emergency Whistle: Fox 40 Sonik Blast
Our top choice ticks all the boxes with volume, ease of handling, and durability.
- Loudness: 120 dB
- Construction: High-impact ABS plastic
- Mechanism: Pea-less design
Both adventure enthusiasts and security experts name-drop the Fox 40 brand when recommending an emergency whistle. This model offers 120 dB of high-pitched sound that will get you found in the woods or ward off a potential assault.
The pea-less design means it won’t get jammed with mud or frozen stuck with ice. With no moving parts, there’s less to go wrong in rough conditions, and the dual-chamber design self-clears when dropped in water.
It’s 2.25 inches long and 1 inch wide and comes in bright, easy-to-locate colors. It also has a cushioned mouth grip to prevent it from slipping from your lips and reduces fatigue from long use.
Fox 40 claims it’s an efficient whistle, and users agree that it delivers high volume with little effort. The affordable price point also means you can get one for all your emergency kits.
- High volume
- All-weather use
- No moving parts
- Bright color
- Abuse could cause hearing loss
Best for Daily Carry: Vargo Titanium Emergency Whistle
This discreet and durable safety whistle is easy to carry on a daily basis thanks to its small size.
- Loudness: 100+ dB
- Construction: Titanium
- Mechanism: Pea-less design
Its small profile and light weight mean you’ll forget you’ve got the Vargo emergency whistle until you need it. It comes with a reflective lanyard but is also small enough to tuck into the coin pocket of your jeans.
Vargo rates its sound level at over 100 dB, and while that seems vague, it’s loud enough to do the job. Most importantly, its small size means you can keep it on you at all times, so it’s there when you need it.
Like other pea-less survival whistles, it has no moving parts, which makes it reliable in wet or cold weather. Titanium won’t rust or corrode, either, so you’ll get years of use from it no matter how you abuse it.
Measuring 2.2 inches long and only 0.3 inches in diameter, it’s small enough to remain discreet with any outfit. So, if your primary concern is safety in urban areas, it won’t stand out when worn to work or on a night out on the town.
The Vargo’s small size also makes it an excellent choice for kids. The lower dBs on this model mean less worry about hearing loss if they overuse during their next scouting trip. However, the lower volume may also mean it performs better in closer quarters.
- Effortless to carry
- Solid construction
- No pea to jam
- Best suited for urban use
- Metal may be uncomfortable in frigid weather
Best for Large Groups: Datrex DX0276M Whistle
This emergency whistle is military-use approved, affordable for large groups, and easy to use for all ages.
- Loudness: 100+ dB
- Construction: Plastic
- Mechanism: Pea-less design
Whether you’re a scout leader, have a large family, or are organizing your family reunion, you’ll need effective emergency whistles that won’t break the bank. The Datrex DX0276M fits the bill. You’ll find them online for just a few dollars each, but they could prove to be the best emergency whistle in your collection.
The Datrex is approved by the US Coast Guard and meets standards for Safety of Life at Sea (USCG SOLAS). This means it meets a higher standard than consumer-grade emergency equipment.
Ad-hoc testing by bushcraft advocates found that a simple life-vest whistle was more audible with competing noise than more sophisticated models.
Like the other models on this list, the Datrex has a pea-less mechanism, making it less likely to freeze or jam in inclement weather.
Measuring 2.75 inches by .81 inches and weighing about 0.5 ounces, it’s large enough to find easily and light enough to carry anywhere.
Composed of bright orange safety plastic, everyone in your party can locate their whistle before the next big adventure. The Datrex also includes lanyards and clips, so it can be worn around the neck or on a belt according to preference.
While only claiming a minimum of 100 dBs, Datrex users have said they easily get more volume with a little effort.
The low price point, bright orange color, and lack of choking risk from the pea-less design make this a winner for scouting groups or young campers.
- Tested and approved for official use
- Inexpensive when purchased in bulk
- Pea-less design
- Easy to find
- Not as durable as other models
Best for Multiple Uses: ACME Thunderer 560
Coaches, dog trainers, and safety experts rate the legendary ACME Thunderer as their top choice because of its distinctive tone.
- Loudness: 117 dB
- Construction: Polycarbonate
- Mechanism: Pea design
With 140 years of history, ACME’s Thunderer whistle is the approved referee’s whistle for over 200 sporting authorities worldwide. Time-tested and perfected, this pea mechanism whistle offers a trilling tone that cuts through distractions.
ACME makes a wide range of whistles, but their Thunderer No. 560 is a polycarbonate model that is waterproof and comfortable to use in cold weather.
We’ve chosen this model due to its versatility. At 117 dB, it’s loud enough for emergency situations while not posing risk to the user’s hearing. The pea mechanism provides a warbling tone that no one will mistake.
That rolling trill is the defining feature that makes this whistle different from others on this list. It helps that sound carry and makes it more audible at a distance. So, you’ll find it particularly effective for outdoor use when hiking or camping. The 560 is easy to blow and produces a medium-pitch sound.
The Acme 560 measures only 1.9 inches by .78 inches, making it easy to fit into your backpack or bug-out bag.
- Affordable price
- Not shrill
- Flexible for many uses
- No lanyard included
- Tone may be too pleasant
Best for Personal Safety: UST JetScream Floating Whistle
For striking absolute terror into the heart and soul of any potential attacker, the JetScream may be your best defense.
- Loudness: 122 dB
- Construction: ABS Plastic
- Mechanism: Pea-less design
The JetScream does exactly what it says on the package, and it does it very, very well. This whistle is loud—and shrill. The manufacturer describes it as a “shriek.”
One online tester measured it at 105 dB, but according to users, the shrillness of this whistle is where you’ll find its value. Some users expressed sheer delight in just how painful this whistle can be.
Measuring 2.25 inches by 1.3 inches, it’s a little larger than some of the other whistles on this list. However, it’s no heavier, at 0.4 ounces. The neon-yellow color and larger profile mean it will be easy to find in any chaotic situation.
The fact that it floats also helps you locate it should a crisis strike when boating.
The pea-less design and use of ABS plastic mean the JetScream is suitable for wet and cold conditions. It resists rust and corrosion, and you’ll also find that it’s not painful to use in the winter.
This whistle is not suitable for children, however, due to the volume. Unfortunately, the cheerful color may tempt them to experiment with it.
- Delivers 122 dB in painful tones
- Affordable price point
- Triangular shape is easy to handle
- Easy to locate
- Looks like a toy
- Some find it difficult to blow
DIY Emergency Whistle
If you have the necessary materials, you can make your own emergency whistle. It may not be as loud as a commercial one, but it’s better than going without.
Why You Need an Emergency Whistle
Emergency whistles, sometimes called safety whistles, come in handy if you’re lost or need help. Hikers, campers, mountain bikers, and boaters rely on them to signal distress and call for rescue in a crisis.
Whether hiking in the woods or walking through an unfamiliar neighborhood, an emergency whistle is a critical survival tool. You can use your emergency whistle to scare off attackers, both animal and human.
What to Look for
When making a purchasing decision, consider the following factors:
Most emergency whistles range from 100 to 120 decibels, or dB. The Hyper Whistle boasts a volume of 142 dB, about as loud as the deck of an aircraft carrier.
However, noise above 140 dB can cause physical damage. Even noises at 120 dB can cause hearing loss. In an emergency, you won’t have time to put in your earplugs.
Along with sheer loudness, you want to look for a whistle that produces a distinct and identifiable sound.
Most safety whistles are metal or plastic. To help you decide which material is best for your needs, let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
Choose a plastic whistle for boating, kayaking, or other activities on the water.
- Plastic won’t rust when used in aquatic or stormy environments.
- If you drop your whistle in water, it may float long enough for you to retrieve it.
- Plastic won’t become too cold to handle in freezing weather.
- Plastic whistles are not as durable as metal ones.
Metal whistles offer a distinct advantage when it comes to durability.
- Unlike plastic, metal won’t easily break or grow brittle over time.
- Some metals will rust if exposed to the elements.
- In extreme cold, metal can be uncomfortable to use.
- A metal whistle will not float if you drop it in water.
Safety whistles come in a variety of sizes. For children, choose large, brightly colored whistles they can use easily. Likewise, choose large and colorful whistles for your home emergency kit, making them easy to find.
For keychain whistles, smaller, more discreet models may serve you better and cause less clumsiness when handled. Hikers, mountain bikers, and kayakers may want smaller whistles that don’t obstruct movement.
How to Use an Emergency Whistle
Like all whistles, the harder you blow, the louder your survival whistle will be. That’s true regardless of the design or manufacturer.
The best way to use your safety whistle is to make sure you have it where you need it.
- Home disaster supplies
- Emergency car kit
- Bug-out bags
- Dedicated camping gear
- Gym bag
Signaling With Whistles
In an emergency, you can use the whistle to signal to others in several ways.
One internationally recognized whistle pattern is three whistle blasts. Each blast should last for three seconds.
You can also use it to help others triangulate and hone in on your location. Again, three whistles indicates you need help. One long blast means “Where are you?” while two blasts means “Come here!”
People across the world still use Morse Code, and it might prove more recognizable by professional rescue teams. To send an SOS call in Morse code, give your whistle three short blasts followed by three long ones, then follow up with another three short blasts.
Don’t Give Up
The second most critical element for using your emergency whistle in a crisis is refusing to give up. Be persistent and keep trying.
While a human can produce a shout over 100 dB, it’s exhausting and unsustainable. In a survival situation, shouting will also use energy you may need for more important matters.
Wrapping It Up
The Fox 40 Sonik Blast is a good all-around emergency whistle that performs under adverse conditions and won’t break the bank. For something a bit less obvious, the Vargo Titanium Emergency Whistle offers both durability and discretion.