What Is SOS?

Discover the meaning and history of the SOS distress signal, how it is used in emergencies, and real-life examples of SOS in action.

What Does SOS Stand For?

SOS is a universal distress signal used to request help in emergency situations. It does not actually stand for anything, but it is recognized globally as a call for immediate assistance.

History of SOS

The SOS signal was introduced in 1905 at the International Radiotelegraph Conference held in Berlin. It was chosen because it is short, easy to remember, and can be transmitted quickly in Morse code.

How Is SOS Used?

When someone is in trouble and needs urgent help, they can signal SOS by using three short, three long, and three short signals in Morse code (· · · – – – · · ·).

Examples of SOS

  • A ship sinking at sea sends out an SOS signal to nearby vessels and the coast guard for rescue operations.
  • A hiker lost in the wilderness uses a flashlight to signal SOS to search and rescue teams.
  • During a medical emergency, a person activates a personal alarm system that sends an SOS alert to emergency services.

Case Studies

In 2010, a man stranded in the dessert used rocks to create a giant SOS message that was spotted by an overhead helicopter, leading to his rescue.

Statistics on SOS

According to the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) system, over 44,000 people have been saved worldwide using the SOS signal since its inception.

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