Survival Misconceptions – Civil Unrest

We live in trying times. I can honestly say that I have never seen our country so divided in my lifetime. Whether it is race, political views, or religion, everybody seems ready to pick a fight. While it makes for some good headlines on the news, it also makes for some unique survival challenges.

Any time you are faced with uncommon, large scale survival situations you are forced to adapt. One situation we have recently faced on a daily basis is ongoing protests. While everybody has a right to voice their opinion, protests can and have quickly turned into riots. You may be minding your own business, walking down the street, when a protest goes bad.  Riots mean violence, property damage, and police response. If a riot becomes large enough, it can quickly lead to martial law. Many people believe that our government is just looking for an excuse to implement martial law and throw all of our constitutional rights out the window. 

I am not sure about you, but I do not have a great deal of experience surviving during riots. I have zero experience surviving under martial law. As a survivalist, that is not an acceptable excuse. We have to learn from those that have been through these situations. There are plenty of resources that can tell us how to stay safe in these scenarios. I also make sure I carry this simple tool with me everywhere I go, and you should too.  

One of your biggest concerns during civil unrest is that your instincts will betray you. There are dozens of survival misconceptions that arise when chaos is rampant. If you treat riots and martial law like any other SHTF scenario, you could end up injured or dead. Here are some misconceptions to avoid during civil unrest.

    1. I Can/Should Take a Side in a Protest – While everybody has the right to peaceful protest, it is not conducive to survival. Some people think that taking a side in the middle of a protest or riot is the safest way to get through it. Sure you put half of the rioters on your side, but you make enemies of the other half. Your best bet is to stay neutral and quickly move out of the area.
      Walk across the foot traffic at an angle while going with the flow. Do not make eye contact, and do not confront or speak to anybody. Blend in as well as you can, and get to safety. If you have others with your group, lock elbows and make sure nobody gets separated. If somebody falls, make sure they roll up into a ball and protect their vital organs. Many of the injuries that occur during riots are due to people being trampled after they fall.

    1. Go to the Police or Military – While a strong argument can be made for trusting the police or military in normal circumstances, that is not the case here. In a riot the authorities are told that their number one priority is to protect themselves. If officers are fighting off violence, battling fires, and constantly defending themselves, they are not in the mindset to help. They will see anybody that approaches them as a threat. You could be injured, arrested, tear-gassed, or even shot.

    1. Assume All Will be well – I know we all like to hope for the best, but these situations can escalate quickly. You may be shopping downtown with your family and notice a small group of people with signs at the courthouse. However, you may not be able to get to your car by the time you come back out onto the street. You never know when a small protest is about to erupt into a full scale riot. With social media fueling the fire, people can get the word out and draw thousands of protesters in minutes. Do not take the risk. If you see a protest, try to get clear of the area as quickly as possible.

    1. Stay Home no matter What – While staying home is the best option in most of these situations, there are scenarios where you would need to leave your home. If you live near the area of the riot, it could spill onto your front lawn. This means fires, broken windows, and looters. While you may be able to defend your home from a handful of people, you cannot hold off a large crowd. Do not allow yourself to be surprised by this situation. Have your bug out bag ready, and be prepared to leave. Have supplies ready to secure your home such as boards and nails for the windows and doors. Designate a safe place outside of the danger zone to stay until things calm down.

    1. Use a Weapon to Defend Yourself – While most of us are proficient in our skills using guns and knives, this may be the quickest way to end up dead. As stated above, you are best suited to blend in and avoid confrontation if you find yourself in a riot. While you may scare some people away or take out one or two attackers, you will only enrage the crowd. These people are not thinking rationally and will swarm to disarm you if you draw attention to yourself. You also may draw the fire of police or military personnel that would otherwise ignore you. Reserve using a weapon for situations where your life is immediately in danger, like this simple tool that I take with me EVERYWHERE.

    1. Talk About It – I know our society encourages you to get on social media and discuss everything, but you should avoid it if possible. There is nothing wrong with gathering information about the situation, but there is no need to share information about your situation. When dealing with civil unrest, keep in mind that the law goes out the window. Criminals have no reason to stay home, so they will be looking for opportunities. If you share pictures of your home, location, family, or supplies online, you cannot control who sees that information. Remember the phrase “loose lips sink ships”? It applies here as well.

    1. Help Those in Need – For many of us we feel the need to help those less fortunate than ourselves. In many cases, there is nothing wrong with this philosophy. However, during civil unrest helping others can risk your life or the lives of your family members. The number one priority is for you to get your family to safety. After everybody is safe, you can choose to venture back out and help others if you like. However, I would not recommend it. These situations are volatile, and it is easy to misjudge your ability to help others.

  1. Rely on Other People – While you have to be cautious about helping other people, you also have to be cautious about relying too heavily on your support network. If you try to meet up with friends or family to combine resources, you could be adding risk for them or for yourself. If you have prepared properly and have the supplies you need, you are best to stay put and let others stay put as well. This will give everybody the best chances of staying safe.

I really try not to be paranoid or pessimistic about the future of our country. However, the division and unrest I feel right now is palpable. I have a hard time getting online because every other post is a statement that divides us instead of bringing us together. I fear it is only a matter of time before things get more serious and frustration spills over into violence. Every day it seems to be getting worse instead of getting better.

While no single person can turn the tides and change the mindset of a nation, you can remain prepared. Take these situations seriously. I know too many people that get involved in these protests and never think about the danger in which they put themselves. There are few things in this world as dangerous as a mob of people that are acting based on emotion without logic.

When it comes right down to it, surviving civil unrest is like most survival. If you slow down and use common sense, you will be just fine. Think about your risks and your best opportunities to get to safety. Dealing with an angry mob is not unlike dealing with an angry predator. Stay calm, blend in, and slowly move to safety without drawing attention to yourself. Keep this simple tool with you that you can use in an emergency situation.  I make sure every member of my family has one on them at all times and knows how to use it. Hopefully you will never find yourself in either situation, but our future is uncertain. Whatever happens down the road, I hope this guide gives you some points to consider regarding your survival strategy.