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21 Ways DeLorme Road Atlases Help Plan Emergency Evacuations- The Survival Mom

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Worried about getting your family to safety in an emergency? Learn how to leverage the power of DeLorme Road Atlases! This guide will show you how to use their detailed maps to plan evacuation routes, ensuring you have options and peace of mind during any crisis.

road map

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s  house is not a bad evacuation plan at all as long as you have a working vehicle, enough gas to reach your destination, and know how you’ll organize your emergency evacuation. However, not all evacuation routes are that simple, and sometimes you need a detailed map to plan primary, secondary, and even tertiary routes in times of trouble.

Humans are creatures of habit and many of us could probably drive to work, school, the grocery store, or our favorite restaurant with our eyes closed. But in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest with the potential to riot, for example, could we get home or to another safe location from those places and how many different routes could we use?

21 Ways a DeLorme Road Atlas Can Help Plan Evacuations

One of the best resources I’ve found for this type of planning is my DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer. These very large atlases can be found in bookstores and online and there’s one atlas per state in most cases. I bought mine on Amazon.

The DeLorme maps are extremely detailed and as I browsed through mine, I came across a multitude of helpful features. Here are some from my list, along with my notes for their potential usefulness:

  1. Hundreds of back roads, marked as thin, red lines, are included in the DeLorme Atlas. These little known routes might help you get from Point A to Point B, if other routes are blocked. However, it’s important to note that back roads may have restrictions, such as weight limits or seasonal closures. Additionally, these roads aren’t always suitable for all types of vehicles. Before relying on a back road as part of your evacuation plan, check online or with local authorities to confirm its current status and suitability for your car.
  2. Different types of roads are clearly marked using a legend with specific symbols. This is crucial for selecting the right evacuation route for your vehicle. While the atlas might show a network of roads, pay attention to the symbols used to indicate road types. For instance, a thin red line might represent a dirt path unsuitable for a sedan, while a thicker blue line could indicate a highway ideal for most cars. Don’t rely solely on the map. To be certain your chosen route is manageable, consider scouting it in person to assess the actual road conditions.
  3. Reservoirs are clearly marked, allowing you to plan a route that takes advantage of this water source or avoid a possible flooding area. To use as a water source, be sure you have methods to purify the water.
  4. Airports of all sizes are indicated. If flying away from the danger zone is an option, you can look for multiple routes to get to the airport. At smaller airports you might be able to find a pilot for hire. If a lot of people have the same idea, you may benefit from the tips in the guide to handling canceled and delayed flights.
  5. You can easily avoid bridges as your make your plans. Bridges can be washed out or become choke points in a mass evacuation.
  6. Because this particular map is so very detailed, it allows you to plan multiple routes with a pretty good idea of what you can expect to find along the way.
  7. Railroads are also marked. If you’re evacuating on foot, it could be handy to follow these routes, since you know they’ll lead to populated areas, and you’ll know ahead of time which areas those are so you can either avoid them or not.
  8. Military sites are indicated. In a dire emergency, you could head there for help.
  9. Along highways, rest areas are marked. At the very least, you’ll find water and toilets at these, but, depending on the location and circumstances, they aren’t always a safe place to stop.
  10. The road atlas include charts showing what types of wildlife are in the area for fishing and hunting. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be successful in your fishing and hunting endeavors, but at least you’ll know which animals to look for. Don’t know how? It’s possible to learn to fish from a Boy Scout Manual.
  11. A very important feature are the hiking trails that are indicated. There are certainly more trails to be found, but having these already marked is a big help if you must evacuate on foot. If do this, you may also need to know how to safely cross a stream.
  12. If you have absolutely nowhere else to go, you can head for campgrounds. With a head start on the majority of evacuating people, you might find a prime spot at a well-equipped campground. Otherwise, you can head for a lesser known campground at a state park.
  13. The DeLorme atlases are huge, which is a big help for seeing all the details. You can always tear out the pages you really need, laminate them, and keep them in an emergency kit. Keep the rest of the book handy, though, because you never know when you’ll need to expand your planned evacuation route further than you originally planned.
  14. Canal and dam systems are marked, making it easier to find water sources.
  15. Lakes, even small ones, are on the maps. If you know how to fish, be sure to include basic fishing gear in your emergency kits or just always have them packed in your vehicle emergency kit. Planning on drinking lake water? Be sure to have a really good water purifier/filter.
  16. The DeLorme maps provide topographical information, so you have an idea of the elevation of your location and route. During a rainy season or hurricane, this can help you avoid areas that are likely to flood.
  17. You’ll also find information about the type of terrain in different areas. At a glance, you’ll be able to locate wetlands, sandy areas, forests, and the like. All helpful to know when planning your route and where you’ll stop overnight, if necessary. If you’re planning to walk, this information can help you plan ahead for the right type of footwear, gear, and shelter, as well as some of the basic survival skills you’ll need for a particular type of terrain.
  18. There is a separate DeLorme atlas for every state. If you think your route(s) may take you into neighboring states, get those atlases as well. Since they are mapped by the same company, the map markings will be consistent from state to state.
  19. Where lakes and rivers are marked, you’ll also find boat ramps marked. This could be handy if evacuating by water is part of your plan. Also, where there are boat ramps there are also small businesses that sell food, water, and boating related gear.
  20. If you really want to get away from it all, you could head to state and national land.
  21. Detailed maps such as the DeLorme atlases are great for kids learning how to use a real, paper map. Teach them how to use a map key, compass rose (N, S, E, W), and have them help you plan different routes for evacuations, vacations, or trips to Grandma’s house. Our kids are already too reliant on electronics and map reading skills could save a life someday.
Evacuation guide amazon bookEvacuation guide amazon book

Tips for Using the DeLorme Road Atlas

  • Create a Communication Plan: Evacuation can separate families. Develop a family communication plan using your atlas. Identify designated meeting points marked on the map in case you get separated during the escape. This will provide everyone with a clear target location to reunite.
  • Factor in Time and Distance: Don’t just focus on the route itself. Estimate the travel time for each evacuation route considering factors like road type, distance, and potential traffic congestion during an emergency. This will help you determine the feasibility of each route and prioritize them accordingly.
  • Leverage Water Sources: The maps depict lakes, rivers, canals, and dams. This information is valuable for two reasons: First, you can identify potential water sources if your access to clean water is compromised during an evacuation. Second, knowing the location of dams can help you avoid areas prone to flooding downstream in case of dam breaches.
  • Mark Your Routes and Supplies: Don’t just plan your routes – personalize them! Use highlighters to mark your preferred evacuation routes. Additionally, consider noting down nearby gas stations, rest areas, or hospitals along the way. Keep a running list of essential supplies you’ll need for each route (food, water, first-aid kit) and store them near your atlas for quick access.
  • Weatherproof Your Atlas: Emergencies rarely strike on sunny days. Consider laminating your most critical pages focusing on your pre-planned evacuation routes and key reference points. This will protect your precious escape plan from rain, mud, or other elements you might encounter during an evacuation.
  • Stay Updated: The world changes, and so should your evacuation plan. Review your routes periodically, especially after significant weather events or infrastructure changes. Mark any updates or road closures directly on your map to ensure your plan reflects current conditions.

Why Planning Multiple Routes is Important

Evacuation routes can be planned well in advance, traversed multiple times to help with familiarity, and shared with family members. It’s vital to have multiple, planned routes, marked on a map, because the odds favor one or more of those routes becoming impassable.

Reasons Escape Routes Can’t Be Traveled

The problem with any passageway, be it a dirt road, city street, or interstate highway, is that it may not be open for travel for a variety of reasons:

  • Flooding
  • Large scale traffic jams
  • Rock or mud slide
  • Multi-vehicle accident — even an accident involving a single vehicle can easily stop traffic
  • Street damage due to an earthquake
  • Riots or violent crime
  • Wildfires
  • Blizzards
  • Roadblocks — by law enforcement or other authorities or by 2-legged predators
  • Events, like an eclipse, that draw massive crowds

Vary and Prioritize Routes

Alternate routes should head in different directions: north, south, east, and west. If you’re at home and learn of a wildfire just a couple of miles to the east and your only planned evacuation route heads in that direction, you’re in trouble! Also, the routes should be prioritized with Route A being the preferred route for familiarity, best direct route, ease of travel, access to gas stations, banks, grocery stores, etc. Route B, Route C, and so on should be marked on the map and be included on occasional practice runs, but those routes will be less preferable for any number of reasons: rough roads, a longer route, fewer amenities along the way, etc.


Why use a DeLorme Road Atlas?

DeLorme Atlases shine for evacuation planning. Their detailed maps, including back roads, offer alternative routes during emergencies. The legend helps you understand road types, terrain, and waterways for informed decisions. Most importantly, they’re paper-based, ensuring accessibility even if electronics fail.

How can I keep my evacuation plan up-to-date?

To ensure your DeLorme Atlas evacuation plan stays current, review it regularly, especially after major weather events or infrastructure changes. Mark any updates or road closures directly on your map. Additionally, talk to local residents familiar with the area to gain insights not reflected on the map.

What other information can be helpful from my DeLorme Atlas besides roads?

The atlas offers more than just roads. Look for lakes, rivers, and canals as potential water sources or even evacuation routes by boat. Railways and boat ramps might also be viable options in extreme situations. Finally, identify hospitals, gas stations, and rest areas along your route, which can be crucial during an evacuation.

Are back roads always suitable for all vehicles?

ack roads aren’t a guaranteed fit for all vehicles. Always check online or with local authorities for restrictions like weight limits or seasonal closures. Additionally, confirm if your vehicle can handle the terrain (e.g., dirt road vs. highway).

Final Thoughts

While emergencies can be unpredictable, by utilizing your DeLorme Atlas and the tips provided, you can take control and create a well-informed evacuation plan. Remember, the key is to be prepared, not scared. With a little planning and practice using your DeLorme Atlas, you can navigate any evacuation scenario with confidence, ensuring your family’s safety comes first.

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