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A semaphore is the use of a particular apparatus for the creation of a visual signal transmitted over distance. It is usually can be performed with flags, but it can also be done with:

  • Fire
  • Lights
  • Sunlight
  • Moving arms

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However, when teaching semaphore, it mainly revolves around flags. The first step in teaching this mode of communication is to make the flags. Make sure that there are at least two flags, at least twelve inches longer than the width of the flag, so that they will learn to make the handle an extension of their forearm, and not hold it by a short handle that allows the wrist to turn and cause the flag to point in any random direction.

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The current semaphore system makes use of 2 short poles with square flags, which a signal person holds in various different positions to signal letters of numbers and the alphabet. The signaller holds one pole in each hand and extends each arm in one of eight possible directions. Except for when it is in the rest position, the two (or more) flags do not overlap. They are colored differently on the basis of whether the signals are sent via sea or land. When the flags are used at sea, they are colored red and yellow which is known as the Oscar flag, while on land, they are white and blue, which is known as the Papa flag. 

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