Safety Maps: where should we meet in a disaster?

Safety Maps are a simple tool to help choose a rendezvous spot in the event of a disaster -- it outputs a printable map with instructions and a clearly marked spot. Safety Maps users have produced little maps for use in the event of government crackdown on protestors, and another in case a sinkhole opens up.
Have you ever thought about how you'd stay in touch with your loved ones if your city experienced a natural disaster or other emergency?

Safety Maps is a free online tool that helps you plan for this situation. You can use it to choose a safe meeting place, print a customized map that specifies where it is, and share this map with your loved ones.

Safety Map (Thanks, Nurri!)


  1. Maybe I’m just foolish, or maybe I’m not in a dangerous enough place. But I just couldn’t partake in this. I’d be laughed at, and it would feel so overly dramatic. Life is too short to be so fearful.

    But I guess if you’re on a Japanese coast or something, it makes sense.

    1. I understand your POV. Disaster preparedness is a slippery slope between doing nothing and living your life waiting for a disaster. In the latter mindset, it’s hard not to even start hoping for a disaster to justify all the preparation.

      However, I do think there are two preparation measures which are so stupid-easy to put in place that we would each be fools not to do them.

      1: Agree with your loved ones on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd priority meeting spaces and times. This takes 10 minutes, and could save you from losing friends, parents, or children for life. Website or not, it’s just a good idea.

      2: Have $3 worth of water jugs at work and home. In normal times when water is so easy to come by, not saving a bit for a non-rainy day is just foolhardy. How embarrassing would it be to die from thirst or due to dehydration-related issues just days after having access to almost endless amounts of nearly-free clean water?

      In each of these cases, the cost/benefit in case of emergency is so absurdly biased here that it shouldn’t even be worth thinking about. And I think that deciding once upon a pre-specified meeting place hardly qualifies as living in fear.

  2. What happens if a sinkhole opens up at city hall? Do you print all new maps? Or do you just call your friends and family and make sure they’re not at city hall?

    Are you really supposed to have a separate map for each possible disaster?

  3. So in case of government crackdown, they take your papers and know where to look for you. Come on. I get the purpose, just like you tell your family what to do in case your house catches fire. But really, let’s use some common sense here….

  4. that’s what i was thinking – how do you know a safe spot PRIOR to a disaster? for other uses, sure.

  5. Inigo: When the job went wrong he went back to the beginning. Well, this is where we got the job, so it’s the beginning. And I am staying till Vizzini come.

  6. Obviously you make three of these, number them, and go to each in order. (And in the case of a crackdown, go to one selected at random.)

    Now, what do you do if there’s a flood and all landmarks disappear, not to mention meeting spots?

  7. Surely if you’re trying to avoid being cracked down by government agents then having a piece of paper that tells the agents where everyone is going to be is a bit of a giveaway?
    Why not just have a “Agents : crack here” sign someone can carry?

    Ultimately, this is a bit pointless. Personal emergency stuff can be accomplished for free by saying “over there” and waving/pointing. Corporate emergency stuff will need a lot more than a bit of paper printed off the internet (like “Emergency assembly point” signs that you’d have to be a doughnut to miss)

    But I can see humorous uses “In case of Zombie attack go to shopping centre, collect guns, shoot for the head” That sort of thing.

  8. but please, let’s not forget the possible abuses as well – like how the news station in Dawn of the Dead was broadcasting the location of emergency centers after it was suspected they were over-run. for god’s sake we must learn from our mistakes.

  9. What if the disaster is some sort of mysterious ray that causes all paper to crumble into dust?

    /Wanted to ask what to do if the sinkhole was at city hall but someone beat me to the punch…

  10. Wonderful. The carnage and suffering could have been greatly reduced if we had this service during Boston’s Great Molasses Flood of 1919.

  11. My _life_ is a disaster. Where do you suggest I meet up when escaping from it…?

    1. I think there was a Lost episode about that, a very stupid one though after all the leadup.

  12. The lesson from Japan is that the unexpected is just that. You have to think outside the box with a lot of what-ifs. In the wake of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake a main wired telco office went down pretty much making communication in and out of San Francisco very limited. Their emergency turbine started with blasts of compressed air but not this time.
    Cell phones worked but it remains to be seen under higher usage whether the system could pick up the load today.
    A great many emergency generators failed mostly because of faulty fuel pumps and day-tank sensors.
    Many busy intersections were without traffic lights and volunteer citizens took over directing traffic.
    Water mains were broken.
    Currently the NRC is finding a lot of untested backup systems at nuclear plants.
    Best advice I can give is to have an agreed upon 3rd party out of your immediate area and perhaps in another state whom everyone will call to coordinate whereabouts. Having an assembly place is limited by all the unforeseen events that might block your way or make the place unusable.

  13. In case of north american super volcano my plan is to meet up in australia.

    At the bar…

  14. Not something i expected Cory to post about, as it seems more like something for the “zombie apocalypse” worried in the states.

  15. Have a QRP ham radio that fits in your pocket. Don’t set a place although it is probably a good idea to know several rally points, instead have a series of frequencies to meet up on. A 40meter QRP radio set (15/20 meter as the solar cycle peaks) will have several thousand miles of range if you can do Morse code less if you need to use voice, if your smartphone has the power you can run digital modes like PSK-31 but then you will need a way to keep your phone AND radio batteries charged.

  16. Assuming you’re not merely a visitor to the city you’re printing the map for, do you even need it? Isn’t it easier to confer with your closest friends and family and agree: hey, if something bad happens, if we can’t find each other, we should all meet at spot X ?

    If it’s a spot locals can’t find without a map, it’s a bad spot.

    It’s a great idea to have an official meeting point but beyond that, planning seems a bit pointless. Better to teach your kids common sense in a similar situation. I live in an area where natural disasters are rare, but we did go through wartime destruction that separated millions of people from their loved ones. It’s a well- known image most kids will have learned in school, from books or accounts- people coming back to the ruins where their houses used to be, months or years after they had fled, and leaving notes on what was left of the walls: “So and so was here, I’m alive, I’m staying at this and this place. I’ll be back here in one week at noon.”

    Plan for that. The internet will help, but also plan for it being down.

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