How To Survive A Riot

August 9, 2011 1:53 pm 0 comments

Share this Article

Author:

Tags:

What do university fee increases, football games, institutionalized oppression, death caused by police, editorial cartoons, and a movie star’s death have in common? They’ve all ignited riots in the past few years. It’s no secret that angry mobs can be as dangerous and unpredictable as just about any natural disaster. London is the latest city to erupt into violence and police clashes, moving far beyond the “protest” facade and into mindless violence.

What may be surprising, however, is that riots can break out anywhere. What’s more, as the above example suggests, while the underlying causes of civil unrest are often the “usual suspects” of racial, religious, economic, or political divisions, seemingly inconsequential events can suddenly trigger mass violence. Fortunately, while you may not always be able to avoid riots, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from harm.

1. Be Prepared

If you know an area is ripe for a riot but you can’t avoid traveling there, take some simple precautions to help protect yourself. First, be prepared for the worst; the unexpected can happen at any moment. Crowds are dangerous when they’re in an ugly mood and normally placid people can turn frenzied just by being in the presence of other frenzied people.

  • Wear dark clothes that minimize the amount of exposed skin (long pants and long-sleeved shirts) when going out. Do not wear clothing that could be interpreted as military or police wear in any way; avoid wearing anything that looks like a uniform.
  • Carry toothpaste with you. Smear it under your eyes if tear gas is released and you have nothing else available to protect you.
  • Take a motorcycle helmet with you. If bricks or other large items are being thrown about, at least you protect your vulnerable head.
  • Think about your possible escape routes and safe havens before anything actually happens. Crossroads are the best because you’ve got at least one road to race off down if rioters go crazy or the police start charging.
  • Carry small amounts of cash with you in case you need to quickly arrange transportation, pay off looters, or bribe police at a checkpoint.
  • If you’re traveling abroad, register with your country’s consulate and carry your passport and/or visa with you at all times. Even domestically, have ID and emergency contact information on you in case you are arrested or become unconscious.
  • Take your telephone, two if possible (one in your pocket and one in a bag). If one is lost or taken, you still have another one.
  • Look for homes that can serve as “safe houses”. If you can, talk to the owners first.
  • If you’re a woman and on your period, opt to use pads instead of tampons and make sure you have extras on you. If you get arrested, you don’t want to risk toxic shock syndrome in jail.

2. Remain Calm

Riots bring intense emotions boiling to the surface, but if you want to survive one you’d be better off keeping your own emotions in check. Your adrenaline and survival instincts will kick in, but strive to think rationally and pursue safety methodically.

  • Have sugar candies on hand. Adrenalin will drain you of energy quickly and a sugar hit will help you move out faster.
  • Avoid confrontation by keeping your head down.
  • Walk at all times. If you run or move too quickly, you might attract unwanted attention.

3. Get Inside and Stay Inside

Typically riots occur in the streets or elsewhere outside. Being inside, especially in a large, sturdy structure, can be your best protection to weather the storm such as a basement, sub-basement or sub-sub-basement or an interior doorway to hide from the mob.

  • 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 your country’s consulate 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.

4. Stay On The Side Lines

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.

5. If you’re caught up in a car, stay calm

Remain inside the car unless your car becomes a focus for the riot, in which case it risks being torched, smashed or rolled over. Calmly and swiftly leave it behind and get to safety if that happens.

  • If you have no alternative but to drive, keep to streets away from the rioting. Avoid all main routes and keep alert for news of where people are.
  • Don’t stop your car. If you’re lucky enough to have a car that you can drive away from the riot, drive quickly and try not to stop for anything until you’ve reached someplace you know is safe. If people seem to block your escape route; honk your horn, and carefully drive through or around them at a moderate speed, and they should get out of the way.
  • Driving towards police lines can be interpreted by the police as a preparation to use the car as a weapon against them. Police are trained and prepared to protect themselves against deadly threats meaning that you may be shot at if they think you are going to run them down with a car.
  • Activists’ fear of cars can be a reality as there have been numerous cases of irate non-participants running down protesters. Any pushing though the crowd should be done with the demeanor of patience, aggression may lead to an attempt to disable your car before it is used as a weapon.

6. Use social media to alert you as to where to stay away from

Just as the rioters have started using social media and texting to alert one another where to go, you can flip this on its head and ask people to help you know where to stay away from. Messages informing you of which streets and areas are currently being targeted provide you with instantaneous warnings of where to avoid.

7. Avoid being hit by riot control chemicals or weapons

Police may deploy riot control agents (tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, for example) to disperse a crowd. These weapons and chemicals can cause severe pain, respiratory distress, and blindness. Try to stay away from the front lines of a riot, and learn to recognize the signs that a riot control agent has been used and how to handle exposure.

  • Avoid wearing oil based moisturizer or sunscreen as chemicals cling to these on your skin. Remove with detergent-free soap before going near the riot.
  • Wear glasses rather than contact lenses; tear gas behind contact lenses is unimaginable pain. Swimming goggles can protect eyes, or a gas mask.
  • Put wet bandannas in a plastic bag and carry these for your mouth. Wrap them around your mouth if tear gas is released. They need constant replacement as they will keep soaking up the gas.
  • Wear vinyl or latex gloves to protect your hands from pepper spray; the nerve endings will make them feel like agony if sprayed.
  • Carry spare clothes to change if you’re hit by chemicals or a water cannon. Put them in a plastic bag for protection.
  • Avoid rubbing your hands or fingers into eyes, nose, mouth etc. after a chemical attack. Stay calm.
  • Never hang around when bullets, gas and cannons are being deployed. These riot control agents can kill if they hit you in the wrong way and even if they don’t, they can maim and hurt you horrendously. If you’re so hurt that you fall down and cannot get up again, you also risk being trampled by the fleeing and terrified crowd.

8. 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.

  • f 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.

9. 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.

Tips

  • Try to figure out why the riot is occurring. Knowing the cause of a riot can help you determine an appropriate response. That said, don’t waste too much time trying to investigate the cause, and don’t venture into a riot just to find out why the rioters are mad.
  • Dress appropriately. If the anger of the rioters is directed toward foreigners, try to look like a local. Choose clothing that will help you blend in. If the rioters are divided into factions, however, try to appear neutral. Don’t wear clothing or carry accessories that might mark you as belonging to one faction or another. In either case, try to avoid looking conspicuously wealthy, as you are likely to draw the unwanted attention of opportunistic thieves.
  • If a riot breaks out in a stadium, your response should be different depending on where you are in relation to the rioters. If you are in the midst of a riot, you should try to quickly move to an exit. Don’t run, however, and try not to jostle others. If you are at some distance from the action, stay where you are unless instructed to move by police or security personnel. Don’t rush for the exits unless you’re in imminent danger. People are frequently trampled by stampeding crowds near exits.
  • When in the middle of a tear gas attack, stay out of the fire line of Police. Gas canisters fired from launchers will cause significant injury upon impact.
  • Some gas is not very heavy, and some is, so it’s best to avoid clouds and gas at all. Never touch your eyes or try to clean your tears; you will only smear them in your face causing yourself more pain.
  • Riots don’t drop out of thin air. Generally, there may be signs of public anger and violence at least one day (in some cases even 3-4 days) before the actual riot. Reading the newspapers and following the news may give you a warning about impending protests, rallies, marches etc. Being informed and avoiding troubled areas may be your best defense.

Warnings

  • Do not try to confront rioters or looters to prevent property damage. No material thing is worth your life.
  • Do not approach police lines to attempt to cross to safety. Police are in place to confine the unrest and prevent its spread. Their orders are usually not to allow anyone to pass. The use of riot control measures, including rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons originate from the police line, and the likelihood of injury is greatest there.
  • Watch your footing in a mob situation. If you stumble and fall to the ground you’re likely to be trampled. This is especially dangerous in stadiums and other enclosed areas, where many unfortunate victims have been crushed to death.
  • If you fall down, pull yourself up into a ball. Protect your face, ears and internal organs. In this position you are a smaller object that can be avoided. You will receive less damage if you are stepped on. If others trip on you they will help create a larger “pile” that rioters will avoid.
  • Never touch a tear gas canister with bare hands; once discharged they’re very hot.

Originally posted at Wikihow.com

Comments

comments

Leave a Reply


Other News

  • Food & Drink Quickly chill any drink in minutes!

    Quickly chill any drink in minutes!

    Bought a beautiful 6 pack after a long day, only to get home and find they’re room temperature? You then have that moral quandary - do you put in the fridge/freezer for an hour, or do you drink a warm beer? Let us help. Simply wrap the beer in a wet paper towel, and place in the freezer. Special physical magic takes place, and the beer should ice cold in less than 15 minutes!

    Read more →
  • Food & Drink Instant ice cold water!

    Instant ice cold water!

    Like to take water with you on your daily run, or on a hot day? Cold tap water doesn’t stay cold for long, and ice takes an unusually long amount of time to melt. Get the best of both worlds, without faffing around with ice cubes, using this life trick: Simply fill your exercise/water bottle up to the quarter mark. Place on it’s side in the freezer, whilst ensuring the water level doesn’t cover the mouthpiece. When you want cold [...]

    Read more →
  • Food & Drink How to tell if an egg is fresh

    How to tell if an egg is fresh

    Eggs – the little bundles of joy/salmonella. Use this simple guide to help you determine whether the egg is fresh – all you need is some water.

    Read more →
  • DIY Home painting made easier

    Home painting made easier

    Painting something at home using a standard tin of paint and brush? Save annoying drips and flicks around the tin, and do away with needing to brush the excess paint off the edge, by simply attaching a thick elastic band around the tin. This allows you to wipe the excess away, keep the tin rim clean of paint, and save yourself a lot of bother!

    Read more →
  • Pro Tips Use a walnut to touch up damaged furniture

    Use a walnut to touch up damaged furniture

    Are your wooden chairs and table legs the victim of years of wear and tear, and showing the scars to prove it? Touch up scrapes and scratches, with nothing more than a walnut. By depositing a thin layer of walnut oil (in fact, many oils will work, such as linseed oil), it helps restore the natural colours.

    Read more →
  • Food & Drink Chill white wine without ice

    Chill white wine without ice

    Want to enjoy a nice, cold glass of Chablis – but some fool forgot to chill the wine? There’s always the option of ice though, but melted ice = a watered down glass of wine. Why not use this fantastic life trick: Simply keep a small stock of frozen, white grapes in your freezer. Pop a few in to your wine, and voila – it chills the wine, it doesn’t water it down, and looks fantastic!

    Read more →
  • Pro Tips Save your fingernails when adding to a keyring

    Save your fingernails when adding to a keyring

    We all know how risky it is, trying to add a new key to your keyring. Those metal hoops, insanely close together and often the cause of a cracked nail, need not be a problem! Simply use a staple remover to bite into it, allowing you to thread your new key on without pain or issue!

    Read more →
  • How To How to quickly undo most knots

    How to quickly undo most knots

    The simple knot – such a lifesaver and used throughout the home. But undoing them, especially if the knot has tightened after supporting weight, can be difficult. Solution? Simply twist the loose end as much as possible, until it’s solid. Then push this through the knot, and with a bit of luck – voila! Undone knot.  

    Read more →