The only thing worse that facing either a man-made or natural disaster is being forced to do so without your spouse and children. Preparedness planning and practicing exit routes and having maps handy are just a few of the keys to successful survival relocation during a crisis. Leaving unconventional notes or wordless messages to loved ones to make them aware of your whereabouts should become an integral part of your preparedness plan. If you had to suddenly flee your home with a few of your children and sans your spouse, do you really want to leave rely on a sticky noted placed on the fridge?
Sending your teenage a text to find out if they are almost home, or calling your spouse’s cell phone to tell him you are heading to the bugout location will not be possible if the power grid goes down. We have all become very accustomed to the convenience and immediate nature of communicating with our loved ones. While it is handy, we surely should not count on being able to reach those we care about via conventional means during a disaster scenario.
During 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Sandy, separated family members were unable to reach those in the disaster zone for days, weeks in some cases. Citizens were reduced to posting photographs at Red Cross and FEMA stations and sit anxiously while awaiting word of their loved ones fate. It would be wonderful if we were all safely huddled inside our homes with our family when disaster strikes, but such a scenario is not very realistic.
If the alleged homegrown terrorists in Georgia had been successful last month, Americans could be sitting in the dark today.The FBI arrested Georgia militiamen attempting to buy pipe bombs and thermite. The federal agents stated during a court hearing on Friday that the men had a sophisticated terror plot aimed at taking down the power grid and water treatment plants. An FBI representative stated that if the northern Georgia militia members had not been caught trying to buy the pipe bombs and thermite from an undercover agent, they would likely have successfully attacked the power grid and water plants. Thermite grenades are military-grade weapons commonly used to destroy equipment, weapons systems, and vehicles. The northern Georgia militiamen had reportedly been chatting online about striking out against federal government agencies in order to provoke an martial law order.
Cloth Flags Used as Warning Signs
Cotton bandanas are cheap and make excellent non-verbal, non-written communication tools during a time of crisis. Cut of portions of cheap tablecloths or sheets found at yard sales can be used for message threads as well. Make a color-coded key which corresponds to what each piece of cloth kept in the bugout or get me home bag means. All the family members should become familiar with the spots around the home where the message threads would be tied. You should choose more than one in case the evacuation of the property was prompted by fire, flooding, or other danger which could constrict movement of those who come home after you have left.
A specific color or patterned cloth could also be assigned to each family member to tie in a specific spot to alert others that they safely evacuated the area. A parent will not want to flee if a child that was playing outside cannot be located, endangering themselves and other children during a frantic search for the missing loved one. A blue message thread could correspond with a specific exit route, meeting location, etc. Devise a message thread plan which is basic, easy to remember, and fits your specific needs. The cloth ties could also be used along the escape route, especially if it had to be altered, so those left behind can rejoin the group. Walking the alternate escape routes and selecting message poles and trees with the entire family in advance will help folks find them when rushing away from danger in a frightened state.
A can of spray paint could also easily and safely pen and paper messages. Once again, devise a key with symbols that only make sense to the family and make a friendly competition type game out of your practice remembrance sessions. Words can be used as well, but “Mom I ran this way,” could likely alert unwelcome guests along your escape route. Spray the symbols or phrases which make sense only to the family on either designated spots or easy to see locations. A husband likely knows his wife’s route home from work, and her alternate route, but the misses might have to kick off her hills and hike home through a wooded area to avert danger or the elements. Spraying a symbol or private directional message onto the roadway or vehicle will help the couple unite and not waste time or face additional harm during a senseless search.
Burying emergency caches near the home and on all the routes to and from school and work also provide a message exchange opportunity and meeting point. Even if the school or place of business is within a five or ten mile radius, maneuvering such a distance will take quite a while on foot and during a disaster scenario. Placing pen and paper and additional message threads and cans of spray paint inside the caches will alert family members following your trail to any change in plan. A short personal note can make a big difference to the mental and emotional state of the loved one who has been separated, afraid, tired, hungry, and thirsty. A map of the caches should be placed in all of the bugout bags, get me home bags, and especially in the children’s backpacks. If an evil-doer removes the message threads or covers up the spray paint messages, the emergency caches would serve as the final avenue of regaining communications and reuniting with loved ones.