What to Do During Rioting and Urban Unrest

Rioting, looting, warlike mobs hell-bent on destruction – they are a staple of any Hollywood post-apocalyptic movie. They are also the unfortunate aftermath of many real-world natural and man-made disasters. As recently as the aftermath of Hurricane Florence’s landfall in the Carolinas, there were news reports of arrests made for looting, prompting the City of Wilmington, NC to issue the following announcement, “In response to looting in the area, an extended curfew is now in place for the block between 13th, 14th, Greenfield and Martin Streets. This curfew went into effect at 5 pm and will remain in effect until 6 am. The citywide curfew will run from 10 pm until 6 am.”

Fortunately, the looting in this case was not widespread and relatively contained, but it happens, to some degree, after any disaster – and it follows that the worse the disaster the worse the looting will be.

Unfortunately, in these troubled times, it does not even take a natural disaster to trigger civil unrest. Rioting and violent protests leading to injuries and even fatalities are becoming more and more a part of the American landscape.

How to Survive a Riot or Violent Protest

If you have read some of my other blogs, I hope you have come to learn by now, that no matter how tough you are, or THINK you are, the best way to deal with open conflict and violence is to try to avoid it at best and be prepared for it at worst.

During an incident of civil unrest or open conflict, the majority of deaths and injuries happen to people who are out on the streets – whether they are there to fight, loot, or just stand in line for food or water.

So Rule Number One for surviving such an event has to be to stay off the streets as much as possible. In addition:

Hide a duplicate of your equipment/supplies, a stash of cash, silver/ gold, and firearms away from your home. If you do not have a Bug-Out or Safe House, consider renting a storage locker, preferably in an older warehouse facility that does not use electronic access, because that could fail in a power outage.

Keep your health up – The key to surviving in many situations is to stay in “survival shape.” You are no good to yourself or your family if you are not in physical condition to run when you can, and/or fight when you have to.

If you do not already have such preparations, consider gates, dogs, and other home security/defense products, such as security grilles for windows. The use of weapons, firearms and other methods of self-defense are matters of training and personal choice. These and methods on securing and protecting your domicile will be covered in future posts.

During times of civil unrest and open conflict, your goal is to get away and stay away from areas of rioting and looting. You can be in just as much danger from police and civil authorities as you can from the rioters, as those that have been dispatched to quell the violence, often cannot, or do not care to, distinguish rioters from bystanders. You need to be smart, use your head, don’t panic, and follow these specific tips and techniques to avoid being a victim, no matter where you are.

• Be aware by recognizing danger.

• Have communication such as a radio, CB, or scanner – do not rely on cell phones.

• Use your senses and keep your wits about you

• Panic spreads fast, so when you feel threatened — like your hair standing on end and the adrenalin working –take action – be prepared to run or fight!

• Stay calm and think clearly – don’t become a victim.

• Remember your goal is always to avoid confrontation and try to go around potential problems.

• If you are a shop owner, do not risk your life to defend your building or protect your inventory.

• If you must go into an area of unrest for whatever reason, have an escape route that you have selected ahead of time.

• Be careful of what you wear — do not wear anything that could identify you as a target. Act like the natives –try to blend in so you don’t attract attention.

• Learn to defend yourself. Choose an art that is compatible with your beliefs and skills such as karate, kung fu, or aikido. Consider carrying mace, pepper spray, guns or other weapons. Armed or unarmed, the best way to win a fight is not to have one, but if you are forced to face trouble head on, you should resist with everything possible in a life or death situation.

Another key rule to surviving civil unrest is not to get caught up in mobs or mob behavior. A mob is mindless – and losing objectivity and clarity of thought, will get you killed in any survival situation.

Written by Mike F. Strong