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How to Survive Civil Unrest and Riots


A Quick History

Not since the 70’s have we had so many urban area civil unrests and riots.  When looking at historical data about civil unrest and riots, the 1970’s decade had 48 notable events.  Compare those figures to the events totalling 14, 9, 16 for the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s respectively.  We are only half way through the 2010’s and we’ve already had 18 notable events involving more people and more violence than the previous 3 decades.

There are many factors that have created this increase in the number of civil unrests and these factors have increased the potential in urban areas for large widespread rioting across our nation.

  • Crime
  • Poverty
  • Lack of education
  • Lack of Empathy

This is a recipe that will lead to urban areas becoming more and more unstable.

If you live in a rural area, suburban or  less populated area you are always going to be safer than people that live in heavily populated, low income, or urban areas in larger metro cities.  Other than moving to the country, here are some rules to follow to survive a civil unrest, riot, and looting event.

What Should I Do?

The most important thing to do in the case of civil unrest is to not panic. Remain calm and logically assess the situation. Be leery of media reports, especially TV coverage, because they’re often inaccurate and exaggerated.

Get your family together in a safe place and stay there until it’s over. Most civil unrest is confined to small urban areas; if you stay out of it, you should be safe. Go home and hunker down and wait until it is over. Make sure your children are out of school and with you.

It would be best not to drive or use public transportation during such a situation, because you might become trapped, especially if authorities close off part of the community. Instead, stay in one safe place until it is over. Civil unrest is another reason why every family needs to have several weeks’ worth of food and supplies stockpiled in its home. Definitely stay away from shopping areas and banks during civil unrest, because those are most likely to be hit.

Keep valuable hidden and make yourself incognito.  The best way to avoid problems is to make your home, cars, and contents unremarkable.  If you drive a Cadilac Escalade, put it in the garage and close the door.

So how does an average person protect herself and her family from such civil unrest? The best way to avoid such unrest is not to live near those places most likely to be hit by civil unrest. The most likely targets in a new round of civil unrest are likely to be wealthy, gentrified neighborhoods in big cities, financial districts, and posh suburbs located near large cities. Examples of these include Brooklyn, Denver’s Highlands neighborhood, and Santa Monica and Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. Also stay away from large universities, college campuses, and government buildings, which are likely to be the epicenters of disturbances.

What Not To Do

Do Not visibly display firearms or to try to organize any sort of armed patrol or defense. Yes, you should defend your home and your family, but you should not take any action that might provoke an armed response  by anyone including police or the military. Do Not go out into the street armed or stand in front of your house with a gun. Keep your guns handy but out of sight.

Something to remember is that police and soldiers are likely to be very jittery during a disturbance. They might not be able to distinguish between an average citizen and an armed looter. This situation could get far more dangerous if the regular military, the National Guard, or police officers not used to patrol duty get sent out into the streets on armed patrol. During civil unrest, radicals often deliberately try to provoke over response by shooting or throwing objects at the police and troops. The Kent State shooting tragedy occurred because a radical tossed a dummy hand grenade at National Guardsmen during civil unrest in 1970.

The best way to get through a civil disturbance safely is to stay out of the way of both the rioters and the authorities. The last place you want to get caught is between the authorities and the rioters. Civil unrest in the United States is likely in the years ahead, but most of us should be able to get through it safely by staying out of its way.


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