How to Survive a Riot

 How to Survive a Riot

A riot can turn out to be just as deadly as any other disaster and they are kicking off all over the world for various reasons.

We live in times now where social tensions are at an all time high. Riots are kicking off over anything and everything and it only seems to be getting worse. Riots are not just simply people expressing their opinion against something, they are not peaceful protests, they are dangerous and people can and have been killed and very seriously injured during these riots.

First and foremost the safest thing you can do is steer well clear from the get-go. This advice is great but the truth is, it’s not always possible and it’s not always that easy.

In 1981 Brixton, London saw a huge riot in which 279 police and 45 civilians were injured with over 100 cars set on fire. In 1992, in LA, thousands of people rioted for a total of 6 days causing over a billion dollars in damage and the loss of 53 lives.

The Bombay riots of 1992 killed around 900 people, and the riots of Kenya in 1992 killed between 800 – 1500 people and over 600,000 people displaced from their homes. The list could go on. I am not trying to scare you in any way, but you need to realise how dangerous a riot can be.

The good news is that there are basic measures that you can take to keep yourself safe if you ever find yourself caught up in a riot.

Try to Avoid

Many people now take certain actions for the “likes” and “follows” on their social media accounts. If they know something is going on, they want to be right there with their camera phone recording just so they could say “I was there“. This is a silly act that is only putting themselves in danger. If you don’t need to be there, then don’t be. If you go to these places deliberately because you have heard a riot is going on, you are putting yourself in harms way and will end up with much more trouble than you can handle.

Situational Awareness

If you have spent any time on this site you will know that I have mentioned situational awareness a fair bit and hopefully by now, you understand how important it is to take the time to learn. You must always be aware of what is going on around you. If something looks dodgy, it probably is. You can find more information in our situational awareness guide here.


Your EDC, or every day carry is just that, it is the items that you carry with you every day when you head out. This should include items that can be of use if you find yourself needing to defend yourself or get help. You can find a helpful list over on The Bug Out Guide.

Remain Calm

No matter what is going on around you, it isn’t going to help if you start panicking. If you panic, you forget the simplest of steps so it is important to remain calm.

Understand That You Are Not Safe

These rioters who trash their own cities and attack women? They ARE NOT like you. They don’t care if you’re in a wheelchair, they don’t care if children get hurt, or if you’re with your family; so don’t try to reason with them, because it won’t work. They are not rational, so don’t expect any favors.

If You Can, Run

If you see a chance of getting the hell out of there, do it. Run and don’t stop until you are sure that you are safe.

This being said, you should only run if you are completely sure that you can get to safety.

Not only will running attract unwanted attention but if you fall you have a much greater chance of being seriously injured. These people involved do not care about if you get hurt, that just seems to fuel them on even more.

Don’t Wait for the Police

With the majority of riots, the police are incredibly outnumbered. You can’t expect the police to step in and pull you to safety, it is down to YOU to protect yourself and your family. With everything happening so fast, anybody caught in the riot, at first glance, is considered a “bad guy”. Even if the police no you are an innocent party, they won’t risk themselves harm to get to you.

Stay on the Sidelines

Never, ever choose a side during a riot. Be as inconspicuous as possible, and slowly and carefully move to the outside of the mob. Stay close to outskirts of the mob but try to avoid bottlenecks such as tunnels, pillars, high fences and long sections of walls. Go in the same direction as the crowd until you are able to escape into a doorway or up a side street or alley.

Join In

This may sound strange but sometimes the only way you are going to get out unharmed is to “act” like you are part of it. Blend in as much as possible until you see your first chance of escaping. It is not just about your safety, it is also about your survival. You’re goal is to get out alive.

Don’t be a Target

Targets in a riot WILL get attacked. Don’t have your head down in your phone or show any kind of weakness to the rioters. Walk upright, look people in the eyes and don’t let others get too close. Speak harshly if you need to, this is the only language they understand at that time.

Stay in a Group

It is true, there is strength in numbers. If you can find other like-minded people, join up with them and you have a much better chance of getting out of there unhurt. Make sure that you are all communicating as you navigate the riot and watch each others backs.

Get to Safety

You need to get out of the riot and to some place safe fast. Keep your cool and as soon as the chance arrives, get out of there and preferably get inside. If you can get to your home, do so, and keep all windows and doors locked.

Don’t stand at your windows or door watching what is happening or you are inviting trouble. Move to interior rooms, this will reduce the danger of being hit by stones, bullets, or other items. Try to find at least two possible exits in case you need to evacuate the building in a hurry.

Watch Your Step

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 easily avoided. You will receive much less damage than if you were flat out on your back or stomach. If others trip on you they will help create a larger “pile” that other rioters will avoid.

Always be aware of the type of ground that you are walking on and whether there are any hazards that may cause you to fall.

Keep Your Hands Up

Just like a boxer you need to keep your hands up which will act as a buffer to protect your chest. The worst scenario is to be pushed by the crowd against a fixed object. Do whatever you can to keep away from walls, fences or barricades, as the crowd pressure can build up rapidly and cause you to suffocate or worse. The crowd will move much like a wave in that after you’re pushed forward, just like an ocean wave there will be a slight lull. In that lull is your chance to move. You need to take a diagonal path between pockets of people.

There will almost always be a space between people that you can slip into. This will take time as you may only be able to move a few steps after each surge but eventually you will make it to a safe zone outside of the crowd.

If You’re in a Vehicle

If you are caught up in the riots while you are in your vehicle, you need to forget about your car and get out and get to safety. Your life is worth much more than your car and it is certainly not worth dying for.

If people 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. This is a last resort; never put someone else’s life in danger unless they are putting yours there first.

Driving towards police lines can be interpreted by the police as use of a deadly weapon and in the heat of the moment they may react with deadly force.

In most cases, you can stay well away from riots as the build up is usually broadcast. If you hear of anything that may lead to a riot, keep well away from that area. I hope this guide has given you something to think about and as always, please feel free to share your own tips in the comments below.

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