Staying Safe During a Riot

Staying Safe During a RiotA riot is as a form of civil disorder participated in by a gathering of people, who act out due to an undesirable situation. This situation may be increased taxes, high unemployment, the result of a sporting event or unpopular governmental decisions.

Fortunately, most people will not be in a position where they are in close proximity to a riot or crisis. However, in the interest of personal safety, it is always best to be prepared in case you are encountered with this situation. Below here are the important know how and basics of surviving a riot, so that you can act quickly in a worst-case scenario.

How Can I Keep My Family Safe During a Riot?

  1. Stay Indoors!
    The most important thing to remember during a riot is that you are safest if you stay indoors. The behavior of a riot crowd can be unpredictable, and you are always safest if you remain out of the way of the rioters. Your voice will not be heard in an angry mob.  Stay inside until the riot subsides.

    Keep doors and windows locked, avoid watching the riot from windows or balconies, and try to move to inside rooms, where the danger of being hit by stones or bullets is minimized.
    Try to find at least two possible exits in case you need to evacuate the building in a hurry.
    Try to contact police or other security agencies to let them know where you are, and be on the lookout for signs of fire.
    If the building is set on fire get out quickly.
    If rioters are targeting the building and gain entry, try to sneak out or hide.

  2. Stay Away from Windows.
    Due to the sometimes violent nature of rioters, it’s best if you stay as far away from the windows and doors in your home as possible. Because riots can turn violent quickly, it is best to stay away from windows. This can prevent you from becoming unnecessarily injured by gunfire, glass, bricks, trashcans and other heavy surfaces that can be hurled into the windows or other dangerous materials, thus creating medical problems.
  3. Remain Calm.
    By not panicking, you are increasing your ability to think clearly in a difficult situation. If you are able to force yourself to remain calm, you have a greater chance of making rational decisions that will ensure the safety of both you and your family and help you figure out the safest escape route.
  4. Your Safety is Most Important.
    If the situation escalates to the point where you believe that your home is in danger of being looted, or that your life is in danger, leave immediately. Your safety is more important than any possessions that are inside your home. Do not try to take anything with you, except for the members of your household.
  5. Find an Exit Route.
    Looking for the nearest exit that is safe to take is what your thoughts should be focusing on. In the event that you do need to leave your home quickly, it’s best if you have a quick way to exit your home. Having an exit route is a good way to ensure that your family will be able to leave the house on short notice during any sort of safety situation.
    If a person is caught outside when a riot breaks out, your main priority is finding safety.  Staying away from the angry mob is the goal. During a crisis/riot, it’s important that you get as far away from the rioting crowd as possible. If you are in an area that you know well, this may be easy for you. However, if you are in an unfamiliar area, you may have a bit more difficulty. Before traveling to an unfamiliar area, it’s best if you have a general idea of how to make your way around the area without attracting too much attention.
  6.  Stay on the sidelines.
    If you’re caught up in a riot, don’t take sides. Try to look as inconspicuous as possible, and slowly and carefully move to the outside of the mob. Stay close to walls or other protective barriers if possible but try to avoid bottlenecks. These are areas where the crowd can be squashed into a tight place, such as tunnels, pillars, high fences and walls that go on for a long way.
  7. If you are a journalist,
  •  Always carry your press card in an accessible place and use it to identify yourself
  • Have enough film or electronic memory
  • Let someone know that you are covering the unrest and tell them what time you are leaving and at what time to expect you back
  • At all times you should be distinct from the protesters and the police
  • Always work in such a way that if something happens you can extract yourself
  • Keep an eye on fellow journalists in case they need help
  • Always carry a map so you can check alternative routes and exit points
  • Give yourself time to drive the route to check for places for good pictures, trouble spots, level of policing, exit routes
  • If you are parking a car, think carefully where you leave it, as you might need to get out in a hurry
  •  If you park too close to the unrest your car could get damaged or blocked if there is trouble
  •  Wear strong boots or shoes and strong, tight-fitting clothing which allows you to move about freely
  • Shin guards, kneepads, body armour, helmet – all or some may be worth thinking about
  • Always remember the weather and dress accordingly
  • Carry the minimum amount of equipment so you can move quickly if need be

8. What Should I Do if I’m Away From Home?

Be Prepared.

Though riots are often difficult to predict, if you are traveling in an area that is a known place of civil unrest, there are certain things that you can do to keep yourself safe. Wear clothes that cover all of your exposed skin, and that fit in with the local dress. It’s important that you blend in, and do not appear to distinguish yourself in any way. Rioters can be unpredictable, and you may be the target for violence if you stand out as an outsider.

Have an Escape.

During a riot, it’s important that you get as far away from the rioting crowd as possible. If you are in an area that you know well, this may be easy for you. However, if you are in an unfamiliar area, you may have a bit more difficulty. Before traveling to an unfamiliar area, it’s best if you have a general idea of how to make your way around the area without attracting too much attention.

Move away from the riot.

The more time you spend in the midst of a riot, the greater your chance of being injured or killed. That said, in most circumstances it’s better to move out of a riot slowly.

  • If you run, you will draw attention to yourself, so it’s usually best to walk.
  • It can also be dangerous to move against a crowd, so go with the flow until you are able to escape into a doorway or up a side street or alley.
  • It may also be advantageous to stay with the crowd until you are certain you can safely escape because it will help you remain inconspicuous and improve your odds of survival if shots are fired.
  • Think of crowd movement like currents in the ocean. In a large riot, the crowd in the middle will be moving faster than the people on the perimeters. As such, if you find yourself in the middle, you should not try to move in a different direction, but follow the flow and slowly make your way to the outside. This requires patience in order to work properly.
  • Avoid major roads. Major roads, squares, and other high traffic areas are likely to be crowded with rioters. If possible, stick to less-traveled side streets to avoid the mobs.
  • Avoid public transportation. Buses, subways, and trains will likely be out of service, and stations and depots will probably be packed with people. Even if you succeed in getting on a train or bus, rioters may stop it or be taking rides on it themselves. Subway stations are particularly bad places to be, both because they are generally difficult to escape and because riot control agents are generally heavier than air and may drift down into subway stations and accumulate there.

Get to a safe place, and stay put.

Choose a safe haven carefully. Sometimes it can be as close as your hotel room, but other times you’ll need to get out of the country entirely. If you’re abroad, you will generally want to head to your country’s embassy or the airport. Try to contact the embassy before going there, however, to let them know you’re coming and to find out if it is safe to go there. If a mob is gathered outside, embassy staff may be able to direct you to a safer place. In any case, just try to put as much distance as possible between yourself and the riot.


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