You are likely street savvy on a normal work day, but amongst thousands in a panic situation is something very different. 911 evacuations went well and people helped each other, but it was warm and during a warm day.
Before you start out on foot, put some of your emergency cash in your front pockets for easy access. This way you are not showing everyone what you have in your bag or wallet when needing it to get past a doorman or hail a cab.
Move emergency items such as flashlights, N-95 mask, a knife etc to pockets so they are close at hand.
Traveling in crowds is ok but you should try and walk off to the side of the crowd to avoid being swept along by a panicking crowd. This will also provide you with the opportunity of ducking into a building or alcove should something start occurring out in the middle of the crowd and prevent you from being injured or knocked down when the crowd suddenly surges forward.
Stick with your fellow professionals, avoid too much eye contact and keep scanning for people who look like they know what they are doing. If they are wearing cloths such as yourself, have a pack etc. try and catch up with them and if you are comfortable, ask where they are headed and if you can travel together. If you are lucky and can hail a cab, share it with them.
When dark, try and travel with others and stay more in the center of a road and away from cars or alleyways.
If you are traveling with a few people you have come to trust and it is dark, ask them if they wouldn’t mind staying with you if you need to do a little detour to get to safety.
GPS, Map or Compass? You know where your prearranged safe locations are, so it’s all a matter of how well you know the routes to get there. Some of us take the same route for years to a friend’s house but if we were unable to take that route, how many of us could handle 2 or more detours. Add smoke, thousands of people going in all directions and it can be very challenging. Same problem can occur if you are in your car when you are forced to find your way to a friend’s house or cottage.
GPS units can have trouble receiving signals in a city on a good day. A paper map is bulky and similar to a compass, it is something fewer and fewer people know how to use.
So if you have a few safe locations you can flee to and do not know the city as well as you may wish, you will need to choose what “tool” you will use. GPS units require batteries so if you choose this one, please make sure you have enough fresh spare batteries for it. Enter all your safe locations in a GPS in advance so you can find your way no matter how many detours you encounter.
If you prefer a map and compass, then mark the spots on the map and perhaps cut off the unneeded sections so the map is easy to hold while you navigate. If you haven’t used a compass, then we recommend that you talk to a friend or take a course on how they work and then go practice with it. If you are unfamiliar with the typical city map, go out one day and practice using it. You simply need a few reference points to orientate yourself and you will be off and walking in the right direction.