Hard copy maps for preparedness are an item that many people may not even consider that could save your life.
If you need to evacuate, you can plot alternate routes to avoid congestion and problem areas. If you need to hunker down in place, you can mark local resources and friends and neighbors, as well as high risk areas.
This post outlines map suggestions that can help keep your family safe and stocked in case of emergency, and provided for as you build your food and preparedness stores.
We recommend hard copy maps because the power is often out during emergencies and certain emergencies such as solar flares or EMP pulses will disrupt electronic equipment.
Preparedness Maps in the Country
Piece together nine of the USGS 15-minute maps, with your camp, house or property on the center map.
Mount that map on an oversize map board. Draw in the property lines and owner names of all of your surrounding neighbor’s parcels in at least a five mile radius.
Get boundary line and current owner name info from your County Recorder’s office. Study and memorize both the terrain and the neighbors’ names.
Cover the whole map sheet with a sheet of heavy-duty acetate, so you can mark it up just like a military map. It will help you get to know your neighbors. When you are introduced to one of them, you will be able to say, “Oh, don’t you live about two miles up the road between the Jones place and the Smith’s ranch?”
Make up an emergency contact list with phone numbers/e-mails that corresponds to all of the names marked on the map, plus city and county office contact numbers for quick reference. Tack the list upright next to the map board, and keep an extra copy in your emergency information binder.
As you get to know people, you can make notes on the phone list or the map about resources they may have for barter or sale.
Since we've moved here, I've found neighbors who are willing to share, trade or sell: eggs, milk, beef, walnuts, rhubarb, asparagus, homemade soap and more. See The Art of Barter: How to Trade for Almost Anything for more information on bartering.
Preparedness Maps in the City and Suburbs
Mapping every single neighbor in a give mile radius is not going to work very well in a more crowded environment, but it is good to at least know those who live closest to you and to have their contact information.
Remember the concept of “safety in numbers”. If things get crazy, it's a heck of lot better to be surrounded by people who have your back and who may be likely to work with you to cope with whatever unfolds.
Emergency contact information for your municipality should also be kept with the neighborhood emergency contact list.
Many municipalities now offer emergency notification services via phone or text message to let you know when a dangerous situation arises in your area. Make sure to confirm that you are on this contact list if it is available. (This goes for the country, too.)
Know your exit routes, map them. Have multiple exit routes, don’t plan on just one. If there is an emergency, primary routes are likely to be blocked by traffic.
Depending on the type of emergency, traffic may also be rerouted around certain areas (in the case of accidents such as crashes or chemical spills, for instance.)
Map to multiple exit point, or alternate stash points such as a storage unit. Have several routes to family members/team members.
See Bug Out Bag or Get Home Bag for some ideas on what to pack when you need to scoot in a hurry.
Know Your High Risk Areas
City or country, you know there are areas that *may* be more likely to be problem spots. These include, but are not limited to:
- Rivers and other waterways, flood zones
- Fault zones or areas prone to sink holes
- Chemical plants or power plants
- Heavy traffic areas, especially those that are prone to fog, ice, or heavy rain
- High value targets for terrorists, such as large public venues or government buildings
- Tornado or hurricane prone areas
A reader noted that during a period of excess rain, they put red dots on their map to mark high water points where the roads were blocked. Very good idea.
As always, evaluate your risks, and plan your preparedness mapping accordingly.