It can happen completely out of the blue, but usually there a lot of very unhappy people complaining very loudly before a group reaches the point of civil unrest. The problem is, you never know what will trigger it to boil over, when it will happen, or where it will be. These 15 tips will help you stay safe, especially if you happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
1. Stay informed of local events and international headlines. You can’t afford to ignore what is happening.
2. If you find out about a rabble-rousing group, you can get on their email list and / or follow them on Twitter and Facebook. They will usually publicize their activities, giving you a heads up of where to NOT be.
When it Actually Hits the Fan Around You
3. Don’t assume that you will be singled out for protection by LEOs (Law Enforcement Officers). They will almost certainly have their hands full already.
4. Don’t expect sympathy just because you are caught in the middle – even if your kids are with you, even if you’re handicapped.
5. Blend in, if you can, until you can get out. If they’re wearing shemaghs, you wear a shemagh. If they’re carrying a sign, you carry a sign. Whatever they’re chanting, you chant. If they look angry, you look angry. Blend in just long enough to work your way to the edge of the crowd and then leave.
6. If you are the “wrong” nationality or race, get out quick. Even a peaceful demonstration can become violent and your appearance can, and probably will make you a target.
7. Fact: The larger the group of people, the lower the overall IQ. They will not be thinking rationally about their actions or possible consequences. They also have the cloak of anonymity. This is a scary combination.
8. If you can’t get out, take cover, hide, but be prepared to defend yourself and your loved ones. If they can’t see you, they can’t hurt you.
9. If in the middle of a mob, work your way to the outer edges and make your escape. By the way, if you are wearing uncomfortable shoes, you might just want to re-think that as a habit.
10. Do not get caught against a wall or fence. You’ll be trapped and possibly injured or killed.
11. Take cover, stay indoors as long as possible. However, if you hear breaking glass or smell smoke, you can probably assume your location is no longer safe.
Habits to Develop NOW
12. Get in the habit of EDC: Everyday Carry. These are items you automatically put in your pockets when you leave the house, along with your keys and wallets. Since a purse can easily become lost or stolen, you may have to adjust your wardrobe. Think escape first, defense second.
A couple of items for EDC to consider that relate to this topic:
- $50+ in cash, smaller bills
- A knife with a larger blade or a “tactical pen” (Know how to use these.)
- “Industrial strength” pepper spray — although, if you or a family member has asthma, this can debilitate you as well as an attacker
- A police scanner app (free!) to avoid areas with problems
14. Stay up to date with controversial issues, especially hot-button issues in your home area. These can trigger random violence as well as organized protests, which can become violent.
15. Improve your “situational awareness”. Read Left of Bang for more information and strategies. This means to know what is going on around you so you can spot danger and move away more quickly. If things go badly, situational awareness can help you stay focused on your primary goal: staying alive and safe.
If you go back and re-read these tips, most are things even little kids can learn to some degree. If your whole family knows that they need to get to the edge of a crowd to escape (#9) in advance, it will make coordination in an actual emergency much easier.