15 Down to Earth Tips for Surviving a Riot

Riots are like wildfire: they happen out of the blue, they can be lethal, can spread in large areas and affect vast numbers of people. We’ve seen it happen again and again. In the last 10 years, there have been many serious riots and violent protests in the U.S.. The Ferguson unrest, when the “solidarity protests” spread in no less than 170 towns and cities across the U.S., including Dallas, Boston, New York and Los Angeles is a prime example. The more recent example that springs to mind is the storming of the U.S. Capitol, where 5 died and 174 were injured.

If you happen to be caught in a riot, what will you do? Are you going to panic or are you going to use your knowledge and quick thinking to get out of it as fast as humanly possible?

Although the best advice for surviving a riot is to never get caught in one in the first place, if you’re unlucky, even if you’ve taken precautions, you may still find yourself caught in a riot. So, I’m going to give you a few good tips to deal with these unpleasant events. Now, I’m not trying to say everyone should freak out and over-prepare for riots, but if you know one could spark where you live, particularly if your town or city is a cultural melting pot, then you have to take precautionary measures… so here goes…

Tip 1: Never move against the direction of the rioters

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If you do, you’re just going to stand out from the crowd and become a target. Rioters may see you as weak and afraid because you’re desperately trying to get out, and they might target you. The trick is to move in the same direction as them, but at an angle, until you find a window of opportunity to get out.

Tip 2: Always carry cash

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If they do target you, giving them some or all your cash might get them to leave you alone. Cash is one of the most important things in any urban EDC kit, anyway.

Tip 3: Find a building that’s open and hide there

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If there are rioters everywhere and getting out is not an option, find an open door and hide inside the building until things settle down. You may have to stay inside for hours (protesters usually get tired after 2-3AM), and you risk them going into the building you are in… but finding one to hide in might just save your life.

Tip 4: Don’t count on police officers to be your best friends

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If you’re in the middle of an angry mob, there’s no reason for them not to see you as a potential threat. You’re on your own, and attempting to talk to them is the quickest way to be violently placed on the ground and hand-cuffed.

Tip 5: Walk instead of run (if that’s what most people are doing)

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Running when everyone else is walking will only get you noticed. Walk fast, and don’t stop moving.

Tip 6: Bug out beforehand

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If you think things are going to get out of hand, you should definitely consider taking your family and getting the heck out of there. Get your valuables, food, and water and just drive. Your life is more important than your apartment, so please don’t wait around for things to calm down or just to see what happens.

Tip 7: Become aware of what’s happening around you

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Our brains disappoint us when we need them most. Right when the danger is near, many people get the so-called “tunnel vision”, meaning they can’t focus on anything but the immediate threat. As you can probably imagine, many things can go wrong because so many people and factions are involved… each with their own agenda, some willing to kill.

Always be aware of your surroundings. To do that you need to be mentally tough and stay calm and focused as you move away from the riot. Never let the emotional side of your brain take over.

Tip 8: If you have a gun, make sure it doesn’t show

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Here’s the problem: even when your gun is safely concealed under your shirt, people might still be able to tell it’s there (because the shirt will mold over it). This could definitely draw the wrong kind of attention.

Tip 9: Stay close to the walls

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Unless you’re trapped in the middle of the riot, stay close to walls and away from light (if it’s night-time). This will give you numerous opportunities to find an open door and take shelter. Make sure your EDC includes a small but reliable flashlight, because you’ll need it to move through dark spaces quickly and without risk of injury.

Tip 10: Know what to do if you get hit with tear gas

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First off, never rub the affected areas, no matter how much they hurt or itch. You’re only gonna make things worse. Remove your clothes as soon as you can and take a long shower. The old ones need to be washed at least 3 to 4 times before you can wear them again.

Your very first reaction when you’re hit with tear gas is to hold your breath to avoid it getting in through your nose. Closing your eyes is also good, though that may not be the safest thing for you to do. What you can do is open them for just a second to see where you’re going, then close them and run like hell.

Tip 11: Wrap a wet bandanna soaked in lemon juice or vinegar

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A bandanna across your mouth and nose will make sure you won’t get the dreaded tear gas inside your respiratory system, but be advised that you need your entire body to be covered if you’re going to be protected by it. That means long pants and long sleeves – no shorts or T-shirts.

If you don’t have a bandana, wrap around anything else that’s breathable but make sure you’re not exposing other body parts by doing so.

Tip 12: Don’t panic

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That’s the last thing you want. The more you train your mind, the better you’ll be able to cope with a riot, with angry protesters, the police, tear gas and any other danger that may arise.

Tip 13: Never confront rioters

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I don’t care if they’re destroying your car or even your home, it’s your life that’s the most important thing.

Tip 14: Drive slowly

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Just like it’s crucial to walk instead of run, it’s better to drive slowly than to rush it. I know that’s the impulse but you’ll only be putting your life in danger by moving too quickly.

Tip 15: Bug out early in the morning

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Any time after 4AM is great for bugging out. Most protesters are going to be sound asleep at that time, resting for the next day of protests. That’s your queue to leave the city with reduced chances of anyone noticing, not even your neighbors.

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