Do These 10 Things if a Riot Breaks Out Near You

The Black Lives Matter riots and the recent civil eruption in Ferguson, Baltimore, Seattle and several other parts of the US, should provoke you to learn the art of surviving riots. A civil uprising can occur anytime and anywhere. Because of their unpredictable nature, riots are very dangerous. What is a riot? It’s when a large group of people behave in an uncontrollable and violent way.

The most common cause is public issues such as government controls, racial tensions, civil frustration, religious extremism, etc. Unfortunately, these irritations are growing in both intensity and frequency. Our society is heading towards a tipping point. The current COVID-19 pandemic has placed our society on a mound of dry firewood. All it needs is a single spark to explode into a frenzied fire.

Since you will never be able to predict unrest with absolute certainty, the only way to save yourself is by preparing for a riot beforehand.

Here are some tips to consider that will help you stay safe in case a riot breaks out near you:


riot escape route

1. Keep an escape route ready.

Where do you spend most of your time? Likely at home and work, right? Prepare escape routes for both places. Do not be misled by the belief that civil eruptions won’t occur where you live. It doesn’t take long for a calm crowd to change into a frantic and angry mob.

While preparing an escape route, be familiar with your surroundings. Jot down different roads that you can use in case of the riot breaks out on the main route. It also helps to be familiar with several escape points from your location. For instance, at the office, you can use the fire stairwell instead of the elevator. If you’re located on the first floor, consider which windows can be opened to escape.

stay calm in a riot

2. Stay Calm.

As soon as a riot breaks out, your survival instincts are going to jump-start, thanks to that rush of adrenaline. However, you must stay cool and collected so that you can think rationally and methodically. Avoid confrontation with everyone. Keep your head lowered and walk away. Do not walk fast or run. This will draw unnecessary attention. This is the key to surviving a riot.

gather family during riot

3. Gather your loved ones.

Once the fights break out, collect all your near and dear ones in one place. Get everyone to lock elbows or hold hands. If there are small children, you may need to pick them so that they don’t get trampled. The next step is to find an exit. Be sure to reassure everyone that you will make it out safely.

riot survival

4. Avoid getting involved.

If you happen to get caught in the riot, avoid standing out, helping out, or taking sides. Try to be as invisible as possible so that you can slowly back away from the mob. Be as close to the barriers or walls so that you can avoid bottlenecks. The last thing you want is to be squeezed into corner by hundreds of angry people.

driving away from riot
Protesters chase a car who run through the intersection filled with protestors along Fair Oaks Ave. in Old Town after the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis in Pasadena on Sunday, May 31, 2020. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

5. If you can get to your car, drive away carefully.

Once you’re in your car, stay in, and start driving. Use Google Maps to figure out which streets are jammed so that you can avoid taking those routes (they’re likely filled with rioters). This prior research is necessary for surviving a riot. Keep moving ahead. Avoid stopping to stare or talk to any of the rioters. In case someone attempts to block your path, do honk, and keep moving forward. But do avoid hitting the person! You may end up becoming the scapegoat for the mob. Keep in mind that in the car, you’re in a position of control. Most activists are put off by vehicles because there have been several instances where drivers have run down protesters.

6. If you’re on foot, walk calmly.

If your escape is on foot, move away from the mob by first going with them. Avoid the instinct to go against the crowd. By doing so, you’re only going to stand out, get blocked or pushed, and even stampeded. So it’s best to stay quiet and move slowly. How long should you continue to move with the crowd? Just until you can escape safely into an alley or side street.

7. Move into an enclosed area.

Riots often explode on open streets, not inside homes or buildings. If possible, carefully move into a sturdy building so that you can protect yourself from the crowd. A building with a sub-basement or basement area is the best place to hide from the mob. It is safer to be inside the building than out on the streets. While preparing for a riot, note down “safe houses”. Once you’re inside the building, lock the windows and doors. Steer clear from them. Move into a room that doesn’t lead outside. Don’t forget to make note of at least two exit points in the building.

8. Find ways to stay in the loop.

Use social media, the radio, or the local news to learn about alerts-especially of places to avoid. Rioters also use social media platforms to communicate where to go and what to do. These messages will keep you informed about which areas and streets may be targeted next. Staying informed about a riot increases your chances of surviving it unscathed!

9. Minimize skin exposure.

If you’re at home when the riot breaks out, consider changing into long pants and long-sleeved tops before heading out. Avoid wearing clothes that resemble law enforcement or military personnel. Basically, don’t wear a uniform. Whenever possible, wear light-colored clothing. Black-hooded tops are a very bad idea. People wearing these are usually mistaken for rioters.

candy for survival

10. Carry some candy.

This is the one time you should eat candy. Sugar provides instant energy. The adrenaline will quickly drain the energy you have. Short bursts of sugar will help you exit and arrive at a safe zone. Keep a stash of small chocolate bars and sugar candy on hand at all times. It will help you immensely in surviving a riot.

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