Planning for a bug out situation is a lot like planning your investments in the stock market. For all your careful research and forecasting, you still don’t really know what’s going to happen or when it will happen. But just because you don’t have a crystal ball, doesn’t mean you should ignore the work of research and planning.
Case in point, look at your bug out plan. Do you currently have pre-planned rally points and message points (or dead drops) along your primary and back-up routes out of the city? If you don’t, then I encourage you to imagine how hard it would be to communicate with your family, friends and loved ones if the normal lines of communication were down during a bug-out-worthy event.
And after that has sunk in, imagine how challenging it would be to link up with people on the move, without that smartphone to allow you to connect on the run. In a crisis, you’ll probably want to meet up with family and friends to walk out of the city together – but unless you secretly have telepathy, this will NEVER work on the spur of the moment without a plan in place.
As unpleasant as it is to consider your vulnerability now, I think we can all agree that it would be a lot more unpleasant to not have these plans in place and actually need them. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Pick An Initial Contact Point
Supposing that you have friends, family and a spouse working throughout a large metropolitan area – you’ll want to pick an initial contact point in that area to meet during a crisis. You could make a general rule that if communication is cut off, you’ll all meet at that spot. You wouldn’t want a crazy or hectic place, like a grocery store parking lot, the hospital, the fire house, or a police station.
Your site should be off the beaten path and it should offer some defensibility. Ideally, this first contact point could be the urban apartment or home of a group member, on the side of the city closest to your bug out location. Or the meet up point could be someone’s workplace, and you could pick them up as you head out of town. Decide on a location at this site where you could leave notes or messages for each other.
Determine The Waypoints
The second place you’ll visit while bugging out could be your group’s first “waypoint.” This could be a second place to rally and another place to leave messages for each other. In the very likely event that your group doesn’t all converge on the initial contact point at the same time, this second site could be another chance to meet up. In your advance planning, determine whether anyone will wait at this site for stragglers and how long they will wait. Determine what the “waypoints” will be on your primary route and along any secondary routes.
In the event that people are in very different places, you may want one of your points to reflect some “corner cutting.” For example, let’s say that your spouse works east of the city and you work in the city. Your BOL is south of the city, and you want to reunite ASAP. Rather than walking parallel routes due south (all the way to the BOL), you could have a rally point where you each angle toward the other. This way, you head southeast, they head southwest, and you meet up much sooner while still getting the hell out of Dodge.
Make Your Mark
Let’s get real, nobody is going to remember all the details of any plan when they are under a lot of stress. But writing it all down in plain English could give a dangerous person everything they need to find your BOL and determine your group strength. A map with your rally and message points, your BOL and several routes could save the day, but it needs to be secure (just in case someone awful gets one of your group members or their bag).
Don’t worry, there’s a trick you can use for greater informational security. The first time I saw this, I was truly blown away. My friend Dave had used a clear UV marking pen to make all kinds of routes and notes on an ordinary street map. As soon as the moisture dries on the paper, these markers leave no sign of any of the marker strokes. Then in one of my classes, he broke out the map and asked us to find the hidden info. We all looked hard, but there was no sign of any secret writing.
Then he pinched a small UV squeeze light (the kind you use to look for pet accidents, available at most pet stores). It was like the scene in the Hobbit where the glowing letters magically appeared on the map. Highlighted routes, copious notes, cache locations and many other details began to glow brightly, right before our eyes. And as soon as he released the squeeze light, the information completely vanished.
This was some next level prepper stuff! So order a clear UV marker online, write everything you need all over a street map for each group, and keep a UV light in a secure spot for each group (but not with the map, lest anyone figure it out).
Leave A Message
In the event that you can’t linger at a rally point, you’ll want your people to know that you made it that far and you’re moving to the next stop (the next rally point or your bug out location). You may also want to leave signs along that way. This message should be written in a special place. It should also be posted in such a way that it doesn’t make sense to outsiders and it cannot be torn down or damaged by weather.
There are different ways to do this, but the best I’ve ever heard is this. To “make your mark” along the way, use a Sharpie to write a letter or symbol on the back of specific street signs along your route. You could choose to “tag” speed limit signs, for example. A friend who is planning to evacuate an urban area along with like-minded groups, has a great system for group markings. Each group has a letter designation, and each family member has a number designation (for example, ascending numbers based on age).
So if mom and dad are 1 and 2, and they tag a street sign with “B 124”, other group members will know exactly who came through and they’ll know that the oldest child is not with them (3 is missing). If conditions are dry, you could also use the UV pen already mentioned, then no one will see your code unless they have a UV light.