If you and your family are forced to get out of Dodge in a hurry due to a crisis, where will you go and how will you get there?
This is something you should determine in advance, and you should have several alternate paths and destinations mapped out as well because you won’t know in advance which roads might not be passable following a disaster.
Should GPS and other electronic navigation get lost in a crisis – or if they are no longer functioning due to the effects of an EMP – paper maps will rule the day. And if the only map on hand is buried deep in a car glove box and dates to the days when maps were free at gas stations, it’s time for an update.
While city and local highway maps are the first to come to mind, and will be the first needed in an evacuation, there other types of maps that deserve a place in bug-out bags and printed evacuation plans.
Topographical maps use contour lines to visually represent the rise and fall of terrain. During an urban evacuation, it may become necessary to hike cross-country to avoid crowds or barriers. City maps give street details, but won’t show water obstacles or other physical barriers.
State highway maps offer a big-picture look at major highways and roads. They come into play once you have escaped the urban scene.
Forest service maps, or fire road maps, provide an overview of national forests and public lands, and they reveal fire and logging roads. Not all these roads have been approved for automotive use, and some may have overgrown into trails. But they are good paths for ATVs and snowmobiles. And they can offer alternative routes in an evolving situation.
History maps show the routes used by historical figures. While the trails may have become obscured over time, they can still be useful. Remember, these routes were established by wagons and pack trains that could cover them. The path of least resistance could be worth knowing at some point.
River charts show river terrain, hazards and stream topography. That information can help establish a river evacuation route. The maps often highlight good take-out points, landings and dangers.
Hunting maps from state fish and wildlife departments offer insights into wilderness areas such as road closures and terrain.
Be sure to store maps in quart-size zipper style plastic bags. Fold the map being used to display through the plastic for quick and protected reference.