GETTING TO HIGHER GROUND
Although you may plan to stay put in the event of a crisis, there will be times when you don't have that option. Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires and other natural disasters may force you to evacuate your residence. The time to find higher ground is now...
Taking the First Step
The first step is to identify a safe alternate location. This can be a family member or friend's residence, a stocked retreat or even the local Civil Defense shelter. Buy several up-to-date topographical maps of your area which include your target location and the regular locations of members of your family during the day (schools, workplace, regularly visited shopping centers or friend/family residences). Plot a compass course from each regular location to the target location, making sure to skirt heavily-populated residential areas and major highways, wetlands, areas of extreme elevation changes, and other undesirable travelling paths.
Making Your Way
Now that you've identified the target location and the quickest safe trail to get there, throw on your hiking boots. It's time to make a few practice runs to see if your planning will work in practice. You can make life easier in the practice stages by getting dropped off at the trailhead and having a waiting vehicle at the target location - after all, you're not going to be making a round trip if there's a real disaster! Be sure to take your marked-up topo, a quality compass, a reliable watch, compatible hand-held radios for the traveler and the pick-up person, a flashlight, a pocket notebook and pencil along, as well as a small survival kit and some means of self-defense. You can't afford to let an ill-mannered dog or person prevent you from reaching your destination. Should you encounter unanticipated activity along the way, find a place to park yourself that's obscured from view until it's safe to proceed. Remember - the goal here is to survive, and your chances of surviving are increased as the occurrence of confrontations decreases! You may want to take some small reflective trail markers in case you get slightly off-course. Allow yourself plenty of time to reach the target location - at least twice the estimated time. Pay close attention to natural landmarks along the way, noting anything that will make your journey easier the next time. Be sure to record beginning time of travel, any radio or microwave towers visible from some point in the trail (make a note of their heading in relationship to your path of travel as well as the time you reach that particular point in the trail), any obstacles to safe or timely travel (including yappy little dogs), and finally your time of arrival at the destination.
Pulling it All Together
Repeat this exercise for each planned route to your target location. Find at least one alternate route to your target location if at all possible. After completion, organize your notes into a comprehensive travel guide which includes compass headings. If you find that one or more of your planned routes isn't feasible, replot the course and try again until you've made a successful run. If you find a particularly good cache location during your hike, make a note of it and return to plant a grab cache there. Make sure that each family member has a travel pack that goes with them everywhere - kids can take a daypack with the basics. Children should know how to reach a safe pickup point from schools, malls, or extracurricular activity locations. If you don't practice reaching your target location, your chances of getting there "cold" aren't good - so get out and take a hike! The more planning and practicing you do up-front, the greater your chance of surviving a crisis.