Can you read a map?


In the old days everyone could read a map.

When I was a kid, we used to pile into the car for a long Sunday drive. (Gas was cheap!) Part of the fun was discovering roads we’d never traveled before.

We used folded paper maps to figure out where we were headed. There was always a box full of them – road maps, topographical maps, occasionally forestry or fire road maps. Most showed the effect of having been folded wrong at least once in the past!

The job of reading the map fell to one of the kids.

Today, of course, nobody reads a map.

Oh yes, we pull up maps on our phone – and then we listen to directions!

In an emergency, when phones are down and batteries are dead, you and your children may find yourselves having to take a road you’ve never traveled before. And to do that safely, you are going to want to be able to read a map.

There are a few basics to reading any map:

  • orienting your map to the points of the compass
  • understanding the scale of the map, and
  • figuring out what the various symbols mean.

Of course, you have to figure out where you are on the map in order to get started!

Give your child the chance to learn this skill!

ow much help you or your child will need to understand a map will depend on a whole host of things. Here’s a great teaching video that nearly everyone will find useful. (It includes drawing your own map you can use for your Family Evacuation Plan.)

Plan to stop the video from time to time to discuss!

And if you want to get more deeply into the whole thing – and your kids are old enough – you may want to add one or more compasses to the exercise, to make it even more fun.

This is an official “Boy Scout” model with lanyard that would make a great, inexpensive gift to go with the map reading. (Click on the image to see details on Amazon.)

This could be a fun activity for your whole family, and give the older members a chance to show off . . .!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

Day 8 of Summer Vacation: A time for some shorter and lighter Advisories as a welcome change-of-pace!

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