surviving a riot

15 Down to Earth Tips for Surviving a Riot

Riots are like wildfire: they happen out of the blue, they can be lethal and can spread in large areas and affect vast numbers of people. It happened in 2014 during the Ferguson unrest, when the “solidarity protests” spread in no less than 170 towns and cities across the U.S., including Dallas, Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. The Baltimore riots of 2015 were also problematic, with hundreds of people arrested and dozens of injured officers.

More recently, in fact, just this past weekend the “Yellow Vests” Riot in Paris demonstrated that in any modern civilized society. Civil unrest can quickly escalate.

If you happen to be caught in a riot, what will you do? Are you going to panic or are you going to use your knowledge and quick thinking to get out of it as fast as humanly possible?



Although the best advice for surviving a riot is to never get caught into one in the first place. In what follows, I’m going to give you a few good tips to deal with these unpleasant events. Now, I’m not trying to say everyone should freak out and over-prepare for riots. But if you know one could spark where you live, particularly if your town or city is a cultural melting pot. Then you have to take precaution measures… so here goes…

Tip #1: Never move against the direction of the rioters

If you do, you’re just going to stand out from the crowd and become a target. Rioters are going to see you as weak and afraid because you’re desperately trying to get out and might pick on you. The trick is to move in the same direction as them, but at an angle, until you find a window of opportunity to get out.

Tip #2: Always carry cash

In case they pick on you, giving them some or all your cash might get them to leave you alone. Cash is one of the most important things in any urban EDC kit, anyway.

Tip #3: Find a building that’s open and hide there

If there are rioters everywhere and getting out is not an option, find an open door and hide inside the building until things settle down. You may have to stay inside for hours (protesters usually get tired after 2-3AM), and you risk them going into the building you are in… but finding one to hide into might just save your life.

Tip #4: Don’t count on police officers to be your best friends

If you’re in the middle of an angry mob, there’s no reason for them not to see you as a potential threat. You’re on your own, and attempting to talk to them is the quickest way to be violently placed on the ground and handcuffed.

Tip #5: Walk instead of run (if that’s what most people are doing)

Running when everyone else is walking will only get you noticed. Walk fast and don’t stop moving.

Tip #6: Bug out beforehand

If you think that things are really going to get out of hand, you should definitely consider taking your family and getting the heck out of there. Get your valuables, food, and water and just drive. Your life is more important than your apartment so, please, don’t wait around for things to calm down, or just to see what happens.

Tip #7: Become aware of what’s happening around you

Our brains disappoint us when we need them most. Right when the danger is near, many people get the so-called “tunnel vision”. Meaning they can’t focus on anything but the immediate threat. As you can probably imagine, many things can go wrong because they’re so many people and factions involved… each with their own agenda, some willing to kill.

Always be aware of your surroundings. To do that you need to be mentally tough, continue to breathe deeply as you’re moving along away from the riot. Never let the emotional side of your brain take over.


Tip #8: If you have a gun, make sure it doesn’t show

Here’s the problem: even when your gun is safely concealed under your shirt. People might still be able to tell it’s there (because the shirt will mold over it). This could definitely draw the wrong kind of attention.

Tip #9: Stay close to the walls

Unless you’re trapped in the middle of the riot, stay close to walls and away from light (if it’s night-time). This will give you numerous opportunities to find an open door and take shelter.

Still, do make sure your EDC kit includes a small but reliable flashlight because you’ll need it to move through certain dark streets. The fact that you won’t see very well will probably slow you down.

Tip #10: Know what to do if you get hit with tear gas

First off, never rub the affected areas no matter how much they hurt or itch. You’re only gonna make things worse. Remove your clothes as soon as you can and take a long shower. The old ones need to be washed at least 3-4 times before you can wear them again.

Your very first reaction when you’re hit with tear gas is to hold your breath to avoid it getting in through your nose. Closing your eyes is also good, though that may not be the safest thing for you to do. What you can do is open them for just a second to see where you’re going, then close them and run like hell.

Tip #11: Wrap a wet bandanna soaked in lemon juice or vinegar

A bandanna across your mouth and nose will make sure won’t get the dreaded tear gas inside your respiratory system. Be advised that you need your entire body to be covered if you’re going to be protected by it. That means long pants and long sleeves – no shorts or t-shirts.

If you don’t have a bandana, wrap around anything else that’s breathable but make sure you’re not exposing other body parts by doing so.

Tip #12: Don’t panic

That’s the last thing you want. The more you train your mind, the better you’ll be able to cope with a riot, with angry protesters, the police, tear gas and any other danger that may arise.

Tip #13: Never confront rioters

I don’t care if they’re destroying your car or even your home, it’s your life that’s the most important thing.


Tip #14: Drive slowly

Just like it’s crucial to walk instead of run, it’s better to drive slower than to rush it. I know that’s the impulse but you’ll only be putting your life in danger by moving too quickly.

Tip #15: Bug out early in the morning

Any time after 4 AM is great for bugging out. Most protesters are going to be sound asleep at that time, resting for the next day of protests. That’s your queue to leave the city with reduced chances of anyone noticing, not even your neighbors.

15 Down to Earth Tips for Surviving a Riot – Conclusion

I hope that now you have a much better idea of what to do during a riot. I also hope you’re going to share the knowledge with your spouse and kids because, when it hits the fan, they might be the ones trapped in the middle of the unrest instead of you.

Stay safe

Recommended Reading & Related Links

The Three Tiered Approach To Civil Unrest

Are You Preparing a Bug-out Plan? 5 Tips to Make Your Plan a Good One

15 Tips For Staying Safe During Times Of Civil Unrest

5 Tips to Stay Safe During Civil Unrest

22 Tips To Stay Safe In A Crowd Or Riot

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