The following is a guest blog from Dan F. Sullivan:
If you’re caught in a riot, your mind and body react like in the case of any other disaster. As a result, you get startled, you panic, you freeze and you get tunnel vision.
But the most important thing about riots is that they are extremely fluid. Things move quickly and, oftentimes, you’ll find an opportunity to escape where, just seconds ago, going that way would have been lethal. You just don’t have this with other disasters. Because of this, it is of utmost importance that you know what to do should you be caught in one.
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Although this is not something you can practice as part of your survival drills, you should definitely imagine what it would be like. The protests and civil unrests that are happening regularly around the world can make it easy for you; all you have to do is watch the footage and imagine yourself being there.
Then, ask yourself this simple question: What would I do?
Let me give you a few tips to better prepare yourself for this very unpleasant type of event. If you’re caught right in the middle of a riot, there are a few critical things to keep in mind.
First off, you need to be a “gray man” in a riot, meaning you don’t want to be mistaken for an angry protester but you don’t want to appear weak and helpless, either. Why? Because the police won’t have any problem putting you on the ground or hitting you with tear gas if they think you’re trouble. Likewise, if the people protesting see you’re afraid, they might see it as an opportunity to take your money and anything else you have on you.
The first thing you want to do is make sure you’re not standing out with your clothes and accessories. If you have rings, watches or anything else that might attract attention, you should quickly hide them in your pockets. Same thing if you’re wearing a hat: you should take it off because it’s only going to make you look taller. Don’t wear camouflage or black bandanas over your nose and mouth unless there’s a very real chance of you getting affected by tear gas.
You should also pay close attention to your gun and holster. Even if they’re both concealed underneath your shirt or t-shirt, angry mobs might still notice the shape of the bulge and may come for them.
Even if all you have is a folding pocket knife (as part of your everyday carry kit), you should still be wary of taking it out unless you really have to.
Here are a few more things you should do when to survive a riot:
- Stay calm (obvious but it’s worth reminding yourself of this from time to time and visualize yourself being this way among chaos).
- Move WITH the crowd in a riot, not AGAINST it. Even better, move in the same direction they are but also at an angle to slowly make your way out from the middle of the action.
- Move close to walls as much as possible. If it’s night time, avoid areas with good lighting and try to stay in the shadows as much as possible.
- Don’t move slower or faster than everyone around you. I know this could be very tempting, particularly if you’ve just escaped one of the riot’s hotspots but, again, you do NOT want stand out from the crowd.
- Get energized. If you don’t have any sweets on you, look for vending machines. (You may want to avoid the temptation of going into a store that’s already be vandalized as you might get recognized later on the security cameras.) In situations like these, you’re gonna need all the sugars you can find.
- Use your elbows to get out of a compact group of people. You’re going to get the same treatment for sure.
OK, you’ve made it. You’re at home, your family’s at home but things aren’t looking good out there. Tension is escalating and the news that is coming in about the riot is alarming to say the least. What now?
You only have two options, really. One is to bug in, the other to bug out. Unless you’re really, really sure things are going to come back to normal, I recommend the latter. If you have a bug-out location somewhere safe, it’s best to take your family, all your valuables and just go. At the end of the day, staying and defending your turf is a gamble and the last thing you want is to gamble with your life.
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The best time to run under such circumstances is around 3-4 a.m., when most protesters are at home, sleeping. Another violent day awaits the city but you can decide to flee and get away from it all.
In the event that you decide to stay, however, you should be prepared to stay inside for weeks. You’ll need enough food, water and medicine as well as was to heat yourself and to generate electricity. You should also:
- Strengthen all your doors and windows;
- Put thick blankets or garbage bags on all your windows to prevent anyone from seeing any light or activity inside;
- …and make absolutely sure your voice or footsteps are not hear by anyone, including your neighbors. If they all think you’re gone, that would be ideal.
I hope this answered some of the questions you had about riots and that, when the time finally comes, you’ll know what to do.
Dan F. Sullivan