I was talking to a fellow on the phone the other day about bug-out bags. He indicated that he had read somewhere lately that he should mark his map with three routes to his BOL (Bug-Out Location) and asked what I thought of the idea.
I indicated that, at least in my opinion, that it didn’t sound like a sensible OPSEC (Operational Security) idea. In a bug-out situation there are many conditions that could cause your map to fall into the wrong hands.
It could be lost or even taken by force, to name a few. In the wrong hands, you’ve just revealed where you are going and that place most likely has your supply of food, weapons, ammo and other self-reliance items. Other members of your family might even already be there.
My thoughts were that it’s not a bad idea to have alternate routes to you BOL, predetermined in the event of detours. But you don’t want to advertise them. I believe in running your routes, before you need to use them and memorize those routes. In executive protection, the advance team and drivers always run various routes such as the hospital, airport, etc., so they are familiar with possible detours and become comfortable with the routes. The same should occur with Bug-Out routes. But in the event a family involved and something did happen to the main leader, a map could come in handy. So, upon further thought on the matter, I felt if you really wanted to mark a map, then you should do it covertly.
What I came up with was the use of a fine-point UV (Ultraviolet) marker to make your markings, then use an UV light to see the markings. I happened to have used this technique for other purposes over the years so I knew it would work in this situation. I also have a couple of different small UV lights that could easily be carried or concealed in a pack.
This photo shows a map of an area where a BOL could be. This map already has three routes marked to a location using a UV marker.
This photo shows the marked route using the Micron Freedom with UV LED.
As you can see, this is a great way to make markings without other people being able to see them. This can be used for other OPSEC purposes as well. Let’s say you have some information that you want to carry with you, but don’t want it to fall into the wrong hands. This could be phone numbers, lock combinations, or other personal information. You could write that information in an innocuous location on something that you have on you such as a piece of paper in your wallet. What I like to do is write inside a small book, in a location that I won’t forget. You could use odd pages, or always start on page 12, etc. Use a system you’ll remember.
This is a page from the Emergency Pocket Survival Guide which is very small and thin booklet. It could be carried in almost any survival kit or pack.
This photo shows how information could be concealed on a page of an innocuous book.
This could also work for information kept at your home or BOL. Just use any book sitting on your bookshelf and add the information you don’t want people to see with a UV marker.
Anyway, I thought this information might be interesting to people who want to mark their maps with various routes to their BOL without it falling into the wrong hands, or securing other private information. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Editor-in-Chief’s Note: John D. McCann is the owner of Survival Resources, a company that specializes in survival kits, survival kit components, and outdoor skills courses. He has also written two books, Build the Perfect Survival Kit and Stay Alive! Survival Skills You Need.
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