How To Survive A Riot When All Hell Breaks Loose

Recent events prove that one of the most likely survival scenarios you may face within modern society is a riot. Do you truly know how to survive a riot? What to do and more importantly what NOT to do?

A riot is a situation in which a large group of people behave in a violent and uncontrolled way.

A riot can stem from any number civil frustrations; from racial tensions, religious fanatisim, class warfare or government control concerns. Most would agree that each of these frustrations aregrowing in intensity and heading toward a tipping point.

These frustrations are like a large pile of dry tinder waiting for a single spark to explode into a raging bonfire.

Regardless of your personal opinions, stances, and beliefs about these issues; we can all agree that the threat of civil unrest is on the rise.

Tensions are so high that the vocal masses are prepared to lash out, to shout, to destroy, defend, rape and loot the very cities they call home.

At home in the States, we have recent examples such as Ferguson and Baltimore. While abroad the deadly Ukrainian revolution. These incidents prove that no one and no place is immune to a riot given the right set of circumstances.

When you stop to this about it, riots are fascinating phenomena. While most riots stem from anger and civil tensions, occasionally they erupt from celebration.

When a popular sports team WINS, fans storm the streets to celebrate. The built up excited energy and assistance from alcoholic beverages can create a riot. Senseless? Yes but they happen.

It’s this illogical and unpredictable nature of riots that make them so hard to prepare for. They are illogical, they are often spontanious, they build momentum and take on a life of their own.

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The psychology of rioting is insane. People flock to the streets, surrounded by other likeminded humans. They feed energy between themselves and those surrounding them.

All it takes is for one frustrated soul to take the first “shot across the bow”. To throw a bottle, light a fire, puncture a tire. Once they get away with this minor infraction, the group thinks they can get away with this as well. And more. Escalation quickly follows if there are not counter measures.

My point is here today is not to dissect the psychology of riots but to make it clear that riots are typically unplanned, spontaneous events that you may accidently find yourself in the middle of.

So let’s see what you can do to avoid and prepare for social unrest.

Basic Riot Preparation

Before we talk about how to actually deal with angry protesters, we need to step back and cover the basics. First and foremost, you should stockpile key food supplies for at least a week, maybe more. Why? Because, depending on the severity of the situation, you might be advised or even forced to stay inside for a long time.

That’s exactly what happened in Brussels in November 2015, following the Paris attacks. One of the terrorists, Salah Abdeslam was thought to be in the city, so authorities had to lock down the entire metropolitan area for 5 whole days.

Now, if one man can cause this kind of reaction from authorities, imagine what’ll happen in the case of riots. Much has been said about the basics of prepping, but it’s worth making sure you get the basics in place for riots and other potential survival events.

Now for riots specifically, I recommend you pay extra attention to your everyday carry kit. The things you carry on your person may very well save your life in a riot. You’d be amazed at all the mini-survival items you can attach to your keyring or add to a small get home bag: LED flashlights, multi-tools, knives, pepper spray, lighters, even lock picking tools.

Some of the other things you should carry with you are:

  • An Extra Phone Battery or Charger
  • A Mini First Aid Kit
  • Offline Maps On Your Phone
  • A Pocket Knife
  • An Everyday Flashlight
  • Get Home Bag With Key Gear

Self-Defense for You and Your Family

The easiest way to prepare for riots is to focus on self-defense. Guns, folding knives, pepper spray, stun guns, make sure your family has them inside their everyday carry kit. I know it sounds trivial to get them but what’s not so trivial is learning how to use them.

YouTube is your best friend for finding how to videos. This video, for instance, teaches the importance of being able to quickly reach for your pepper spray and point it in the right direction (plus many other good suggestions):

Explore Your Neighborhoods

If angry protesters are standing between you and your home, you’ll be glad you took the time to learn the alleys and back streets in your town or city. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to quickly get home by taking an alternate route. Remember that even a peaceful protest can take a turn for the worst in a matter of minutes.

The best way to get to know your town is to explore it. Make it a point of always taking a different route home. If you can, see how long it takes you to do so. Even better, try and memorize some of the street names so you know you’re on the right track.

Stay in Survival Shape

Survival fitness is important regardless of whether you’re bugging in or out. If you’ve seen footage of Muslim migrants from Germany in Koln, then you know that these women didn’t stand a chance during New Year’s when hundreds of them were assaulted. Still, the stronger you are, the more you increase your chances of self-defense or escape.

Preparedness is all about doing little things that add up to maximizing your chances of survival. Getting in shape now will allow you to run faster, to be more flexible, to throw stronger punches and when you need it.

Develop Your Situational Awareness Skills

Complacency can kill.

On New Year’s 2016 in Cologne, there was not much to predict the ordeal that occurred… not for those who didn’t have a keen sense situational awareness, at least.

If you look closely at the footage preceding the mass assault, you can see migrant men throwing fireworks to scare people. You can also see there were quite a few of them and, if you had been there, you would have heard them speaking in Arabic.

Let’s get one thing straight: situational awareness is not about thinking everyone is out to get you. It’s about trusting your instincts, taking action on those instincts to avoid tragedy.

If you had met each and every one of those migrants one by one, during daylight, in a crowded area, I’m sure you would have felt relatively safe. But when they walk around in wolf packs during the night… we’ve all seen what they’re capable of.

Awareness is about being able to analyze people and circumstances and calibrating your body’s instincts. As humans, we’re hardwired to be on alert when we feel something is wrong.

However, too many of us have become soft and too trusting. Or oblivious to harsh realities of the world. We’ve lost our primal protective instincts in this overly-technological modern world so now we have to re-train ourselves to get them back.

Here are a few tactics you can practise to improve your situational awareness:

Do visualization exercises. Imagine yourself in various survival scenarios and think what you’d do and how you’d react. Watch some You Tube clips of riots to make the experience more real. Try to stimulate your senses by imagining sounds, smells and even touching people and objects.

Here’s a video of the 10 largest riots in history.

As you’re passing random people in the streets, analyze them, try to figure out if they’re at all a threat. Are they carrying any weapons? How do you know? Try to go beyond stereotypes and racial signals such as skin color or if they’re poorly dressed or age. Assume everyone is capable of harm if push came to shove.

As you’re walking or driving around town, notice the various secondary roads, wonder where they’re leading and whether or not they can take you home.

I cannot stress this point enough, the best way to survive a riot is to avoid one in the first place. Use your instincts, they are telling you something doesn’t seem right and find a way and a reason to leave.

The big exception is if you choose to be part of the riot and feel compelled to participate. If this is you, then understand the risks you are taking. You are no longer interested in solely surviving butmaking a political statement. I won’t pretend to guess what such statement may be or pass judgement on the logic behind it but you’reno longer motivated by your immediate safety. You’re motivated by some other cause.

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How To Survive A Riot: The First Few Minutes

Let’s image your curiosity got the best of you and you stuck around a bit too long to see what would happen next and a riot broke out.

When trapped in a riot, don’t panic or aimlessly start running. Even if you want to make a run for it, you’ll have an angry crowd to contend with. A crowd that won’t take kindly to some maniac who’s pushing and shoving in an attempt to feel. That’s when you may become a target.

How do you survive the riot? First off “don’t panic”? By keeping your mind busy. Put the left, rational (logical) hemisphere to work so that the right-emotional side doesn’t take over. The human brain can only think about one thing at a time, so start carefully analyzing the situation?

This is easier said than done. For most people the emotional side of your brain can easily over power the right side when powerful emotions take root. And one of the most powerful emotions is fear.

So you have to really get down to specifics. Here are a few of the things to focus on as you feel the fear start to creep in:

  • Look at what people are doing and where they are heading. Are they standing still or moving in a specific direction?
  • Are there any fights going on? Is anyone chasing anyone else?
  • Is anyone throwing rocks or other objects? Even if they’re not flying in your direction at the moment, they might be soon.
  • Is your car nearby? Can you reach it quickly and safely without running?
  • Are there an open door close by to take shelter should violence erupt?
  • Are policemen arriving in your proximity?

One thing is clear: whatever’s happening, you have to start moving. Preferably in the opposite direction of the riots focal point.

You should also hide anything that could make you a target such as jewelry or a gun.

Things are happening… Now what?

Maybe you weren’t able to run for cover, maybe you ran into another angry mob while breaking free of the intial one, maybe you ran into law enforcement. You’re trapped so… now what?

The first question to ask is: how many people are with you? Are you alone, with your family, with co-workers or with your dog?

If you’re in a group, you should stick together because you stand a better chance if you’re under attack UNLESS someone has a window of opportunity to run for cover. Always keep in mind that you have to move with the flow of people, not against it. Always be on the lookout for a chance to make a quick turn on an adjacent street.

What if there’s no way to go? In that case, maybe you can find a building you can hide into? Anything will do, even a dumpster. Sometimes, these dumpsters are set on fire by rioters so don’t hide into one unless you really don’t have a choice.

A building is best if the main riot is not trying to get into the building. However, buildings can become traps too if crowds of people start pouring in. Even if they do, they’ll probably do most the rioting on the ground floor (break the windows, loot etc.) so try to make your way to higher floors.

How to Handle the Law Enforcement

Why would you need to handle them? Because, as far as they’re concerned, you might be one of the rioters! It’s called guilty by association.

If they’re throwing a tear gas canister in your direction, you don’t have time to explain you’re a good guy, you have to run like hell, even if this means they’ll chase you. If they try to arrest you, it’s better to comply. If they take you in for questioning, that’s your chance to leave the danger zone.

What Else? How To Avoid A Riot

As you can see, preparing for riots is more about trying to avoid them in the first place. Some of the things you can do to ensure you or your loved ones never end up in one include:

  • Teach you loved ones to avoid joining protests and look for other, more productive ways to make a difference
  • Avoid curiosity and when you see a protest or riot taking shape; leave. Don’t stick around to see what happens, you can check it out on the news from the safety of your living room.
  • Try to move out of tense neighborhoods that have a history of civil unrest and crime.

…and continue to prepare for all other disaster scenarios. Prepping for a single isolated event isn’t the most productive orcost-effective way to go about survival, so make sure you cover as many big and small critical events in parallel.

So in summary surviving a riot comes down to these basic actions:

  • Avoid them in the first place
  • Don’t let curiosity get the best of you
  • Practice your situational awareness skills
  • Always keep your everyday carry gear with you
  • If with companions, stick together – safety in numbers
  • If caught in the middle, move away from the violence with the least amount of attention as possible
  • Get to know your neighborhoods and potential escape routes



Article Provided By Dan Sullivan from

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