Recent events prove that riots are real and dangerous.
In fact, it’s one of the more likely survival scenarios you may face in modern times. But do you know how to survive a riot?
What to do and more importantly what NOT to do?
A riot is an event in which a large group of people acts in a violent and uncontrolled way.
Riots stem from any number civil frustrations; racial tensions, religious fanaticism, class warfare or government controls. And each of these frustrations is growing in frequency and intensity. We are heading for a tipping point.
These frustrations are like a large pile of dry firewood waiting for a single spark to explode into a raging bonfire.
Regardless of your personal opinions, political stances, and beliefs about these issues; we can all agree that the threat of civil unrest is on the rise.
Tensions are so high that the vocal masses are prepared to lash out, to shout, to destroy, defend, rape and loot the very cities they call home.
These incidents prove that no one and no place is immune to riots.
When you stop think about it, riots are fascinating phenomena. While most riots stem from anger and civil tensions, occasionally they erupt from celebrations.
When a popular sports team WINS, fans storm the streets in celebration. The built up energy (and assistance from alcoholic beverages) erupts into a riot. Senseless? Absolutely, but no less dangerous.
It’s this illogical and unpredictable nature of riots that make them so hard to prepare for. They are illogical, they are often spontaneous, they build momentum and take on a life of their own.
The Psychology Of Rioting Is Insane
People flock to the streets, surrounded by other like-minded humans. They feed energy between themselves and those surrounding them.
All it takes is for one frustrated soul to take the first “shot across the bow”. To throw a bottle, light a fire, puncture a tire. Once they get away with this minor infraction, the group thinks they can get away with this as well. And more. Escalation quickly follows if there are not counter measures.
My point isn’t to dissect the psychology of riots, but to make it clear that riots are unplanned, spontaneous events that you may unintentionally in the middle of.
So let’s see what you can do to avoid and prepare for massive social unrest.
Basic Riot Preparation
Before we talk about how to actually deal with angry protesters, we need to step back and cover the basics. First and foremost, you should
First and foremost, you should stockpile food supplies for at least a week, maybe more. Why? Because, depending on the severity of the situation, hunkering down my be necessary. You may be advised or forced to stay indoors for a long time.
That’s exactly what happened in Brussels in November 2015, following the Paris attacks. One of the terrorists, Salah Abdeslam was thought to be in the city, so authorities locked down the entire metropolitan area for 5 whole days.
Now, if one man can cause this kind of reaction from authorities, imagine what’ll happen in the case of uncontrolled riots. Much has been said about the
Much has been said about the basics of prepping, but it’s worth making sure you get the basics in place for riots and other potential survival events.
Now for riots specifically, I recommend you pay extra attention to your everyday carry kit. The things you carry every day may save your life in a riot. You’d be amazed at all the mini-survival items you can attach to your keyring or add to a small get home bag: LED flashlights, multi-tools, knives, pepper spray, lighters, even lock picking tools.
Some of the other things you should carry with you are:
- A Portable Phone Battery
- A Mini First Aid Tin
- Offline Maps On Your Phone
- A Survival Knife
- An Everyday Flashlight
- Get Home Bag With Key Gear
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Self-Defense for You and Your Family
The easiest way to prepare for riots is to focus on self-defense. Guns, folding knives, pepper spray, stun guns, make sure your family has them inside their everyday carry kit. I know it sounds trivial to get them but what’s not so trivial is learning how to use them.
YouTube is your best friend for finding how to videos. This video, for instance, teaches the importance of being able to quickly reach for your pepper spray and point it in the right direction (plus many other good suggestions):
Here’s Sabers Police Strength Tactical Pepper Spray for just $12. It’s a excellent investment in your personal self-defense.
Explore Your Neighborhoods
If angry protesters are standing between you and your home, you’ll be glad you took the time to learn the alleys and back streets in your town or city. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to quickly get home by taking an alternate route. Remember that even a peaceful protest can take a turn for the worst in a matter of minutes.
The best way to get to know your town is to explore it. Make it a point of always taking a different route home. If you can, see how long it takes you to do so. Even better, try and memorize some of the street names so you know you’re on the right track.
Stay in Survival Shape
Survival fitness is important regardless of whether you’re bugging in or out. If you’ve seen footage of Muslim migrants from Germany in Koln, then you know that these women didn’t stand a chance during New Year’s when hundreds of them were assaulted. Still, the stronger you are, the more you increase your chances of self-defense or escape.
Preparedness is all about doing little things that add up to maximizing your chances of survival. Getting in shape now will allow you to run faster, to be more flexible, to throw stronger punches and when you need it.
Develop Your Situational Awareness Skills
Complacency CAN kill.
On New Year’s 2016 in Cologne, there was not much to predict the ordeal that occurred… not for those who didn’t have a keen sense situational awareness, at least.
If you look closely at the footage preceding the mass assault, you can see migrant men throwing fireworks to scare people. You can also see there were quite a few of them and, if you had been there, you would have heard them speaking in Arabic.
Let’s get one thing straight: situational awareness is not about thinking everyone is out to get you. It’s about trusting your instincts, taking action on those instincts to avoid tragedy.
If you had met those migrants one by one, during daylight, in a crowded area, I’m sure you would have felt relatively safe. But at night in wolf packs; we’ve all seen what they’re capable of.
Situational awareness is about being able to analyze people and circumstances and calibrating your body’s instincts. As humans, we’re hardwired to be on alert when we feel something is wrong.
However, too many of us have become soft and too trusting. Or oblivious to harsh realities of the world. We’ve lost our primal protective instincts in this overly-technological modern world so now we have to re-train ourselves to get them back.
Here are a few tactics you can practice to improve your situational awareness:
Do visualization exercises. Imagine yourself in various survival scenarios and think what you’d do and how you’d react. Watch some YouTube clips of riots to make the experience more real. Try to stimulate your senses by imagining sounds, smells and even touching people and objects.
Here’s a video of the 10 largest riots in history.
As you’re passing random people in the streets, analyze them, try to figure out if they’re a threat. Are they carrying any weapons? How do you know? Try to go beyond stereotypes and racial signals such as skin color or if they’re poorly dressed or age. Assume everyone is capable of harm if push came to shove.
As you’re walking or driving around town, notice the various secondary roads, wonder where they’re leading and whether or not they can take you home.
I cannot stress this point enough, the best way to survive a riot is to avoid one in the first place. Use your instincts, they are telling you something doesn’t seem right and find a way and a reason to leave.
The big exception is if you choose to be part of the riot and feel compelled to participate. If this is you, then understand the risks you are taking. You are no longer interested in solely surviving but making a political statement. I won’t pretend to guess what such statement may be or pass judgment on the logic behind it but you’re no longer motivated by your immediate safety. You’re motivated by some other cause.
How To Survive A Riot: The First Few Minutes
Let’s image your curiosity got the best of you and you stuck around a bit too long to see what would happen next and a riot broke out.
When trapped in a riot, don’t panic or aimlessly start running. Even if you want to make a run for it, you’ll have an angry crowd to contend with. A crowd that won’t take kindly to some maniac who’s pushing and shoving in an attempt to feel. That’s when you may become a target.
How do you survive the riot? First off “don’t panic”? By keeping your mind busy. Put the left, rational (logical) hemisphere to work so that the right (emotional side) doesn’t take over. The human brain can only think about one thing at a time, so start carefully analyzing the situation?
This is easier said than done. For most people, the emotional side of your brain can easily over power the right side when powerful emotions take root. And one of the most powerful emotions is fear.
So you have to really get down to specifics. Here are a few of the things to focus on as you feel the fear start to creep in:
- Look at what people are doing and where they are heading. Are they standing still or moving in a specific direction?
- Are there any fights going on? Is anyone chasing anyone else?
- Is anyone throwing rocks or other objects? Even if they’re not flying in your direction at the moment, they might be soon.
- Is your car nearby? Can you reach it quickly and safely without running?
- Are there an open door close by to take shelter should violence erupt?
- Are policemen arriving in your proximity?
One thing is clear: whatever’s happening, you have to start moving. Preferably in the opposite direction of the riots focal point.
You should also hide anything that could make you a target such as jewelry or a gun.
Things are happening… Now, what?
Maybe you weren’t able to run for cover, maybe you ran into another angry mob while breaking free of the initial one, maybe you ran into law enforcement. What should you do once trapped?
The first question to ask is: how many people are with you? Are you alone, with your family, with co-workers or with your dog?
If you’re in a group, you should stick together because you stand a better chance if you’re under attack UNLESS someone has a window of opportunity to run for cover. Always keep in mind that you have to move with the flow of people, not against it. Always be on the lookout for a chance to make a quick turn on an adjacent street.
What if there’s no way to go? In that case, maybe you can find a building you can hide into? Anything will do, even a dumpster. Sometimes, dumpsters fires are set by rioters so don’t hide in one unless you don’t have a choice.
A building is best if the main riot is not trying to get into the building. However, buildings can become traps too if crowds of people start pouring in. Even if they do, they’ll probably do most the rioting on the ground floor (break the windows, loot etc.) so try to make your way to higher floors.
How to Handle the Law Enforcement
Why would you need to handle them? Because, as far as they’re concerned, you might be one of the rioters! It’s called guilty by association.
If they’re throwing a tear gas canister in your direction, you don’t have time to explain you’re a good guy, you have to run like hell. If caught, it’s better to comply. If taken for questioning, that’s your chance to leave the danger zone.
What Else? How To Avoid A Riot
As you can see, preparing for riots is more about trying to avoid them in the first place. Some of the things you can do to ensure you or your loved ones never end up in one include:
- Teach you loved ones to avoid joining protests and look for other, more productive ways to make a difference
- Avoid curiosity and when you see a protest or riot taking shape; leave. Don’t stick around to see what happens, you can check it out on the news from the safety of your living room.
- Try to move out of tense neighborhoods that have a history of civil unrest and crime.
…and continue to prepare for all other disaster scenarios. Prepping for a single isolated event isn’t the most productive or cost-effective way to go about survival, so make sure you cover as many big and small critical events in parallel.
So in summary, surviving a riot comes down to these basic actions:
- Avoid them in the first place
- Don’t let curiosity get the best of you
- Practice your situational awareness skills
- Always keep your everyday carry gear with you
- If with companions stick together – safety in numbers
- If caught in the middle, move away from the violence with the least amount of attention as possible
- Get to know your neighborhoods and potential escape routes