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What to Do during Rioting: A Survival Guide

What to Do during Rioting: A Survival Guide post image

Most of the time, it is easy to avoid rioting. Stay informed and you should be able to avoid the riot zone and stay safe. But there are some situations where you might get caught in a riot (the Fergusun riots and Baltimore riots made this all too clear). And there are yet other situations where you might be compelled to take to the streets in protest, even with the risk of rioting. For these reasons, I believe that everyone should know what to do in case they are caught in a riot.

Be Prepared

Riots are just one of the many potential disasters that you should be prepared for. I suggest you read our post about the steps to take after any disaster. In addition, you will need:

  • To pack a Bug Out Bag and have it ready (aka Go Bag)
  • Have a map of the local area handy, and be familiar with alternative escape routes
  • Pay attention to the news so you can be informed about whether a riot is likely to break out

Do NOT Protect Your Property during a Riot

This advice is going irritate a lot of people. After all, don’t we survivalists spend a lot of time discussing personal protection and home/property defense? But, in the case of rioting, it simply isn’t worth the risk.

Rioters cannot be put in the same category as thieves and other criminals who might break into your home.

Psychologists use a term called “mob mentality” to describe what happens during a riot, and there is even a whole branch of study for “crowd psychology.” When people get into groups, the group mentality takes over. Fueled on by the mob, people lose their personal morals, their inhibitions, and can become incredibly violent and destructive.

A rioter cannot be reasoned with.

A rioter cannot be bought off.

A rioter will not be scared off by your gun or warnings.

Your property can be replaced. Your life cannot. In a riot, the only thing you should care about is securing your and your family’s personal safety.

Escaping the Riot

If you find yourself caught in a riot, your main objective should be to GET OUT to a safe place. Luckily, riots are usually contained in a small area. However, there may be many dangers on the outskirts of the rioting area too as some rioters may set off in groups to vandalize and loot property. Get as far away from the riot as you can to safety!

Escaping a Riot On Foot

This applies to situations where you find yourself in the midst of a riot, such as in a city street. Here are the main points you will need to follow:

  • Blend In: Try to look as much like the rioters as possible. If all the rioters have their hoods up, then put yours up too. If you are caught in a riot while wearing a business suit, then ditch the jacket and roll your sleeves up so you better blend in. Once you get to the edge of the riot area, remove anything that makes you look like a rioter or the police might mistake you for a rioter.
  • Go in a Diagonal: Never try to go against the crowd – you could just end up getting trampled, and it will make you stand out. To escape the rioting mob, it is best to walk in the same direction as them, but at a diagonal. You will soon come to the edge of the mob and can walk away.
  • Don’t Get Involved: Don’t try to stop the rioters from destroying property. Any sort of involvement is just going to put you at risk.
  • Get Inside a Safe Building: When you find yourself outside during a riot, you should get indoors as soon as possible. But don’t get into just any building, or you could find it being looted and on fire soon! Avoid stores and government buildings as your cover space.

*If you see someone getting beat by rioters, then you might feel inclined to intervene. But this also puts yourself at risk. Instead, try to scare the rioters away by shouting something like “the police are coming!”

Escaping the Riot in a Vehicle

If you are in your car and find yourself in the midst of a riot, then remember these points:

  • Stay In Your Car: Never get out for the rioters, and avoid slowing down.
  • Don’t Stop: If rioters are standing in your path, keep going at a slow pace – they will move out of the way if they think you will run them over!
  • Avoid Main Roads: Hopefully you’ve got alternate routes memorized so you don’t get stuck in a dead end alley.

Escaping an Indoor Riot

These are the most dangerous types of riots because it is hard to escape and you could get stampeded in the process. Indoor riots are common in prison (let’s hope you never end up there) but also happen in places like sports arenas. Remember these points:

  • Do not run towards an exit. You could get trampled in the process.
  • Look for an alternative exit.
  • If you cannot escape, look for cover.
  • Act crazy…

About this last point. I read it in this blog post about how to survive a prison riot. The author has all sorts of advice, like getting naked, masturbating, and painting your face. I’m not sure how well any of these would really work, but it makes sense that no one is going to mess with the naked guy masturbating in the middle of a riot!

Surviving a Stampede

A rioting mob can turn into a stampede, which means you could end up getting trampled. In this case, the best thing to do is find a sturdy object to use as a cover and stand by it. For example, find a telephone pole to stand against.

Have you ever been caught in a riot? Let us know your experience in the comments below or join the discussion on Facebook.