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Compasses & Signaling

     

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compass is an important part of any emergency or survival gear. It is so easy to get disoriented outside, even in a city. Simply put, a compass can help to keep you from going in circles. Beyond that it is a good idea to learn how to use a compass so you do more than go straight, but actually be able to find your way fro point A to point B.

To determine the direction, or bearing, from one point to another, you need a compass as well as a map. Most compasses are marked with the four cardinal points—north, east, south, and west—but some are marked additionally with the number of degrees in a circle (360: north is 0 or 360, east is 90, south is 180, and west is 270). Both kinds are easy to use with a little practice with a compass.

One thing to remember is that a compass does not really point to true north, except by coincidence in some areas. The compass needle is attracted by magnetic force, which varies in different parts of the world and is constantly changing. When you read north on a compass, you're really reading the direction of the magnetic north pole. A diagram in the map margin will show the difference (declination) at the center of the map between compass north (magnetic north indicated by the MN symbol) and true north (polar north indicated by the "star" symbol). Because the magnetic declination is computed at the time the map is made, and because the position of magnetic north is constantly changing, the declination factor provided on any given map may not be current.