Surviving Riots: 6 Crucial Steps For Your Safety

When riots begin, law and order can disappear within a matter of minutes. While individuals may not go into a crowd intending to start a riot, group think and the frenzy of the moment bring out the worst of human nature. Violence will be the rule of the day in which you will either kill or be killed if you don’t know these 6 ways to stay safe during a riot.

1. Be Ready Beforehand

Even though riots are not organized at the start, you will need to be prepared well ahead of time in case one occurs.

Secure Your Surroundings and Valuables

  • Always be careful who you let into your home, or any other area where wealth might be displayed.
  • A home that has tall walls, bars on the windows, CCTV cameras and other surveillance equipment is advertising to the world that owners with fancy clothes or jewelry have money and other expensive personal belongings. The best way to not be noticed by potential rioters is to have a home, habits, and clothing that either blend in the neighborhood, or look poor enough to not be worth bothering with.
  • Do not keep all of your food, water, and other emergency supplies in one central location. Build multiple hide-a-ways in the walls and in the floors to store valuables. Build bury containers to hide under the house, in sheds or other outside structures to prevent looting as much as possible.

Secure Entry Ways

  • Doors and windows should be reinforced from the inside so they do not draw attention. Have multiple working deadbolts and jam bars on all outer doors even if you currently live in a “good neighborhood”.
  • Use regular window locks with screw in bolt locks, and have swing down bars that can be shifted into place if needed.
  • Try to create hallways or dead ends where you have a shooting advantage if one or more people enters your home.
  • Know all ways and paths to get out of the house in secret; and arrange a meet-up point with other family members.
  • Keep a chimney damper made from very heavy metal that can withstand at least 300 pounds standing on it without being forced open. You should also have a metal support rod to lock under the damper in case rioters try to get in through the chimney.

2. Crisis Training and Management

  • Each person should know their position and the locations of all other family members in time of crisis. Practice these positions on a regular basis.
  • Everyone, including those that cannot handle a gun, should be trained with a weapon can handle with confidence. For a low budget option, use a squirt gun filled with 75% ammonia and aim it at the face and eyes of the intruders.
  • Know when to talk or make noise and when to be completely silent.
  • Be prepared to use all necessary force, including lethal to defend yourself and your family.
  • Keep your bug out bag ready and stocked at all times.

3. Preparing Your Evacuation

If you suspect a riot is in its infancy, do not wait around to see what happens. Implement your evacuation plans as soon as possible.  Until then take these precautions:

  • Keep family and pets in the house, make sure everyone that can handle a weapon is armed and ready.
  • Lock, bolt, and barricade all windows and doors.
  • Set up your defensive fields of fire, but do not engage until you know the intentions of the rioters. Some may simply break some windows, hurl rocks, or beat on your doors and then leave. This is not a good reason to panic, scream, or open fire and give yourself away.
  • Rioters are extremely unpredictable. There is no way to tell if they are looking for material goods or for human plunder (example to rape, murder, or brutalize.) In order to reduce the risk of falling victim to the latter, everybody must stay away from the windows, turn off lights, and be as quite as possible.
  • Make your property look and feel like there is nobody home. If the rioters are intent on stealing material items, at least you will have the advantage of surprise when they enter what seems like an empty house, and wind up with bullets flying in their direction.
  • If someone knocks on the door do not answer. No matter who they claim to be, or who you think they are, that person could be a hostage or decoy being used to gain entrance to your home.
  • Once rioters enter, and are neutralized, make quick repairs to the damaged doors and windows.

4. Protecting the Small and Weak When Chaos Breaks Out

Keep children, elderly, disabled, and others out of direct fighting and weapons fire. A well reinforce closet or pantry with a secret lockable hiding place will keep them safe.

If you have a baby or young child, try to make the safe room soundproof so that unintended sounds do not get heard elsewhere in the building.

5. Things to Avoid

Never join the riot, yell, scream, or incite rioters. In this case safety is not in numbers or solidarity with them. Panic will run rampant, and you can easily be stampeded, beaten, or killed.  If you must go outdoors, stay in shadows, and out of sight.

Rioting masses draw the interest of police and other anti-riot troops. Their job is to stop the riot and reestablish the public safety and peace. If you are caught in the riot masses you can be arrested and charged for any crimes that were committed. You can be killed by security forces if the situation gets bad enough.

6. How to Escape a Riot Area Safely

Depending on how bad the riot is, escape may take a little longer than you first thought. If you choose to leave by car, be sure to carry enough firearms, ammo, your bug out kit, food, water, and other necessary supplies to last at least two weeks. Do not forget to lock all the doors and windows before leaving since rioters may look for easier pickings.

Before leaving, make sure you know your escape route and alternatives without GPS or other assistance devices. Turn off GPS, cell phones, and any other device that may electronically report your position. If you have a newer car, find out how to turn off On-Star and similar devices. Most of the time, civil unrest slows down just before dawn due to fatigue and hunger. Leave at that time, and travel by secondary roads until you reach your destination. Stay there until it is safe to return home.

Knowing the 6 ways to protect you and your family in a time of civil unrest could be the difference between life and death. Planning and testing each part of the emergency escape plan will give you practice and a chance to change things that do not work. The more you practice the better the plan will work when you need it.

Written by

Fred Tyrrell is an Eagle Scout and retired police officer that loves to hunt, fish, hike, and camp with good friends and family. He is also a champion marksman (rifle, pistol, shotgun) and has direct experience with all of the major gun brands and their clones. Fred refers to himself as a "Southern gentleman" - the last of a dying way. He believes a man's word is his bond, and looks forward to teaching others what he has learned over the years. You can send Fred a message at editor [at]

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