Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
When the shit hits the fan, one of the first things people will do is riot. This is especially true in larger cities where a massive population in one location almost guarantees a mob reaction to any number of disasters.
This is a serious problem because, as you probably already know, riots are very dangerous. And in many cases, they are deadly.
No matter how tempting it might you, you should never ever join a riot. Doing so is asking for trouble. Instead, your number one goal should be to get as far away from the riot as possible. Sometimes, however, that is easier said than done. In case you ever find yourself caught in the middle of a deadly riot, here are eight invaluable tips on how to survive.
Tip #1: Try To Blend In
That is, blend in with the rest of the non-violent bystanders, not the rioters themselves. It’s human nature to target those who stand out from the crowd, and if you are doing things such as screaming, throwing bricks, positioning yourself away from the others, or any number of things that make you stand out, you are painting a bullseye on your back.
In a riot, there are three groups of people: the rioters, the police, and the non-violent bystanders. You want to do your best to blend in with the third group and avoid the attention of the first two while making your way to safety.
Tip #2: Drive Carefully
If you have access to a car, it is probably your safest means of escape. That does not, however, mean that once you are inside a vehicle you are completely secure.
If you’re driving towards police officers, they may think you intend to use your vehicle as a weapon and may resort to lethal force to stop you. Rioters, on the other hand, seem to love nothing more than upturning a vehicle.
The key here is to stay calm and drive normally, avoiding crowds of people as best you can while you make your escape.
Tip #3: Move With the Crowd Until You Find an Opportunity to Escape
One of the worst things you can do in a riot is trying to swim upstream by going the opposite direction of the crowd. Getting trampled is one of the biggest concerns in a riot, and trying to force your way against the flow of people is one of the quickest ways to wind up on the ground being beaten to death underfoot.
Instead, calmly go with the flow of the crowd until an opportunity such as a doorway, an alley, or a side street presents itself. Then, moving laterally, make your way out of the crowd and to safety.
Tip #4: Avoid Riot Control Weapons
Once things start getting out of hand, police officers may begin to deploy tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, and other nonlethal means of deterring the rioters. The important thing to keep in mind here is that just because these methods are supposed to be nonlethal doesn’t mean they won’t cost you your life.
Getting tear gas in your eyes or shot with a rubber bullet could put you on the ground and leave you unable to defend yourself against the mob. To avoid getting hit with these weapons, stay far away from the front lines of the riot, and keep a careful eye out for signs that nonlethal weapons have been deployed, such as people running away from a particular spot with their arms shielding their faces.
Tip #5: Don’t Try to Be a Hero
There’s a reason the police deploy weapons that target everyone indiscriminately in a riot (such as tear gas). It’s because targeting rioters individually, even if they are performing activities such as breaking into a store or assaulting someone, is deadly business.
As difficult as it might be to resist the urge to intervene in such situations, doing so likely won’t help anything and may cost you your life. Get yourself and your loved ones to safety and leave the rest to the police.
Tip #6: Avoid Getting Pinned In
Tripping and being trampled underneath the crowd is a big concern, but you’re just as likely to be injured or killed by being pinned against a wall or fence by the mass of people. The sheer weight of the crowd pushing against you can break bones and potentially suffocate you. If it can happen at a concert, it can happen in a riot.
To avoid this, stay away from tight spaces and buildings (unless you have a way to enter the building). Also, try to keep away from the edge of the crowd. Not only will this protect you from being pinned, it will also make you less of a target for police officers.
Tip #7: Get Indoors Right Away
If you remain calm and patient, the opportunity to get indoors should eventually present itself. If you are lucky, you will already be inside a building once the riot starts. Either way, get inside the nearest building, lock the doors and windows if you can, and stay there.
Keep away from windows and exterior walls to better protect yourself from thrown bricks, bullets, and other projectiles.
If possible, secure a weapon as well. You never know when someone with bad intentions will enter the building you’re in. Arming yourself and hunkering down in an interior room is the best way to stay secure for the duration of the riot.
Tip #8: Trust Your Gut and Be Prepared to Improvise
All riots are different, and there is no “one size fits all” solution to escaping them. Some riots may be relatively peaceful and only take up a block or two, while others such as the LA riots of 1992 may be city-wide and very violent.
The key is to trust your instincts and be prepared to improvise your actions to fit the situation. Remaining calm, keeping a wary eye on your surroundings, and trusting your gut as you make your way to safety is the best way to survive a riot of any size and violence level.