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Alternative Communication Options

BLUF: Consider backup methods of communication in case of a Life Altering Event (LAE). These will provide alternative ways to stay in contact after a grid-down scenario or disruption of comms.

Message Drop– The message drop is straightforward and involves dropping off a letter, leaving behind a written message, or other data in a location intended to be found by others to your group or another group.

Purpose: Update others on your situation/status, your location/destination, rally points, relay important information such local hazards or supply points, instructions, etc. Message drops can be complex such as leaving printed maps or a jump drive storage device loaded with resources.

Methods: A message drop can be a letter left in the front door of a residence, a hidden cache box at a pre-designated location, or even via a sealed bottle at sew or leaf pamphlet drop from aircraft.

Implementation: In many cases a message drop is best accomplished using pre-determined rally points, drop locations, and codes known only to members of your group.

Markings and Symbols– This is one of the best and most effective means of physical communication. Establishing unique markings or symbols allows you to leave messages in the open that everyone in your group/area can recognize. Having multiple types of symbols can warn your group about threats, update them on statuses, or simply pass on a secret message without a word spoken. The downside is that everyone in the group will have to memorize the markings or symbols (or refer to a reference guide such as ICERS) and you will have to trust that these secret symbols will not be given away to potential threats. Again, change them frequently to deter potential threats. The next question is how to make these symbols. Well, get creative, use paint, carvings, drawings, etc. Anything works honestly just make sure the group is filled in on any abstract symbols that might not be noticed unless seen first.

Billboards – Writing can be left on billboards to ensure more people can view your message or increase the chance that your intended target sees the message. Symbols or coding can be used so only your group understands the messages, the best option is to share a location so that the group can find more in depth information from an actual message drop. This method is best used when you have an established work schedule in a larger group

Graffiti/Symbols– Same as billboards but easier to disseminate as this message can be left anywhere along your route without the need to climb up signage. Use markings unique to your group and change them frequently.

Urban Search and Rescue Markings – These are the structural markings on homes following a disaster. INSARG and FEMA are the two most widely used forms. The symbols used can relay important information about the area you are in and the building/house itself. Data typically relayed is lives/deaths, time/date, hazards, and identifier of rescue personnel.

Door Knocks– Door knocks are a physical and audible form of communication that can be done on the fly. Best used to relay quick information. It can also be a knock, possibly followed by a password. It’s recommended that it be a knock that is uncommon yet still can be delivered quickly. The best scenario is in a densely populated urban environment ideally an apartment complex. It can be used to gain entry to a residence of a group member so that you can avoid danger/detection. This allows you an egress from the public area of a breezeway at hotels, condos, etc. Also, this method can be used to warn the receiver of inbound danger. A “threat knock” or “threat phrase” will alert the person that danger is imminent.

Animal Delivery– While not the easiest method of physical communication, it is worth mentioning still. Animals such as dogs and birds have been used for 1000s of years. This method is extremely effective for communicating with tribes/groups that are far away.

For this way of information exchange to be effective you must train for it before a Life Altering Event (LAE). Animal mail delivery is a lost skill like many old school skills and must be practiced and ready before things get bad. Do not expect to pick this skill up overnight post SHTF.

Postal Mail – After SHTF, it’s possible mail delivery may still be available, although delayed. If you’ve seen the movie “The Postman,” you can also imagine that even after an apocalyptic event, mail services could be reestablished if even by citizens. Delivery messengers/couriers may be one of the first jobs post-apocalypse. With a less tin-foil-hat approach, following a grid down scenario, it’s highly possible mail delivery may be the only means of communications across the nation.

This article was originally written by the Grayman Briefing. Stay in the know, sign up for Intel and Situational Awareness alerts pushed to your phone on emerging threats and preparedness warnings. Click HERE to subscribe to the Grayman Briefing.


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