If you see this hand gesture while you’re driving or on a video call, dial 911 right away

Novemebr 11, 2021

Did you know there’s a specific, simple, and discreet hand gesture that can be used to signal distress? If you know what to look for, you might be able to rescue someone in peril—or even to get help for yourself, should you ever need it, reports Best Life.

HandIn fact, on Thursday, November 5, one eagle-eyed driver spotted the gesture when a teenage girl placed her hand outside the open window of a car—and called 911 to assist in a roadway rescue.

“The complainant was behind the vehicle and noticed a female passenger in the vehicle making hand gestures that are known on the social media platform Tik Tok to represent violence at home: I need help, domestic violence,” the sheriff’s office in Laurel County, Kentucky, said in a statement. “The complainant advised 911 that the female appeared to be in distress.”

The missing 16-year-old girl was able to communicate her need for help by using the hand signal, which she learned on the social media site TikTok, People magazine reports.

After Laurel County 911 got the call on Thursday, operators dispatched officers to a highway exit, where they conducted a traffic stop on the car carrying the teenage passenger. They discovered the girl’s parents had reported her missing from Asheville, North Carolina, two days previously.

They then arrested the driver, a 61-year-old man, and discovered he was carrying a phone that held photos that “portrayed a juvenile female in a sexual manner.”

According to the sheriff’s department, “The female juvenile told Sheriff’s investigators that she had gotten with the male subject and traveled through North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and into Ohio, where the accused had relatives.

When the male subject’s relatives realized that the female in his custody was underage and reported missing, the accused left Ohio traveling southbound and the female juvenile then began attempting to get motorists [sic] attention to call 911.”

The driver was charged and is being held at Laurel County Correctional Center.

With domestic violence situations soaring during the pandemic, the Women’s Funding Network launched a campaign in 2020 to help people in need silently call for help—for instance, as a way of quietly communicating the danger on a video call. They called the campaign “Signal for Help,” and used it to raise awareness about the hand gestures.

The signal is made by placing one hand up with the palm facing outward. The thumb tucks in underneath the four fingers folded over it. Knowing this simple, silent gesture could save a life one day—perhaps even your own.

Research contact: @bestlife