Surviving civil unrest: How to stay safe during riots
05/18/2021 // Virgilio Marin // Views

Getting caught in the middle of a riot is the last thing you'd want in the event of civil unrest. Violence is rampant and law enforcers cannot be relied upon since they themselves are too busy fending off angry mobs. Your best bet at survival is to avoid riots altogether and secure emergency supplies at home or at your bug-out location. (h/t

Predicting a riot

It's important to be familiar with the warning signs of civil unrest so you can avoid riots and make the necessary preparations. A protest could escalate into a riot if you observe the following patterns:

  • A perceived outrage erupts.
  • Good people react and protest out of outrage.
  • Acts of violence occur here and there.
  • Those who caused the protest try to quell the mob.
  • People react to the quelling and join the protest.
  • Mobs emerge.
  • Violence escalates.
  • The police and military intervene.
  • Fires engulf the city and you feel that no one is safe in the area.
  • Cops act preemptively in a desperate bid to assert and restore the rule of law.

How to survive civil unrest

The most effective way of surviving civil unrest is to stay home or bug out. In a perfect world, you and your family are all home, watching the news from the safety of your living room. But no one can really predict when exactly a riot will happen. There's a good chance that the members of your household are in school or at work when the situation descends into chaos.

Plan your get-home route

You need to prepare a survival plan to get everyone together. Check out these planning tips:


  • Devise a route to pick up your children from school. Avoid major thoroughfares as heavy traffic will quickly build up on these roads.
  • Prepare multiple routes in case of an emergency. Identify alternative back roads and map out directions if you must get home on foot.
  • Find places to lie low. If you work or attend school somewhere far from home or from your bug-out location, look for places where you can wait for the riot to abate. You're safe when you stay out of sight.
  • Avoid groups of people. A pack of people could turn out to be rioters, gangs who came out hiding or individuals looking for trouble. Even harmless people can become violent out of sheer desperation.
  • Avoid the authorities. Law enforcers will treat anyone as a threat during civil unrest.
  • Know when to abandon the plan. Unique circumstances can make your plan impossible to carry out, which is why you need to come up with a backup plan.

Secure emergency preps

You need to prepare emergency supplies because it is too dangerous to go to the grocery store in the middle of a riot. Besides food and water, some of the things you need to stockpile include:

  • Food buckets
  • Cash in small denominations
  • Garbage bags, pet supplies and toiletries
  • Candles, matches and lighters
  • Flashlight and spare batteries
  • Fuel
  • First aid and emergency medications

Stay under the radar

Keeping a low profile at home is key to surviving civil unrest. Keep all doors and windows locked and never answer the door. Put your family together in one room and avoid making unnecessary noises. (Related: 5 Survival techniques you need to know when society breaks down into chaos.)

Be ready for the potential of fires

You need to be prepared to put out fires since buildings and cars are often set ablaze during civil unrest.  Firefighters will have their hands full so it is up to you to extinguish flames at home.

Invest in fire extinguishers and test them regularly to ensure they are in good working order once the need for them arises. Teach your children how to properly use a fire extinguisher and build fire escape ladders that connect second-story rooms to your lawn.

Be prepared to defend yourself

Mobs can invade neighborhoods and storm houses. Stockpile firearms and other defensive gear so you have something for self-defense should your home get breached.

Avoiding riots and keeping a low profile are key to surviving civil unrest. Plan ahead and stockpile emergency supplies to ensure your family's safety during a riot in your neighborhood.

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