Civil Unrest Survival: A Quick Guide to Safety

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By Bryan Lynch •  6 min read

Civil Unrest is probably one of the most unsettling emergency events to deal with. It can be widespread, localized and highly unpredictable.

It is a fine line of acting normally amongst civilized individuals versus dealing with those that just want to see the world burn.

Below are some guidelines for navigating an environment taken over by civil unrest.

Guide for Surviving Civil Unrest

Situational Awareness

Situational awareness really is not that hard. Putting it simply, it is paying attention to the environment around you. The reason I bring this up is that I feel it has become a lost skill primarily due to the addition of smartphones in our daily lives. For example, how many times have you seen someone walking down the sidewalk, down a flight of stairs, too self-involved in taking a picture, or attempting to cross a roadway while staring at their phone?

When put like that I think you can see the dangers of not being aware of what is going on around you. As it pertains to civil unrest, I will take it one step further.

You need to follow your gut and pay attention to signs that are bothersome. For instance, if someone looks out of place and is acting oddly then those are cues that should not be ignored. In a situation like that it would be best to remove yourself from the situation.

Know You Exits

For me this is another part of situational awareness. It does not matter if you are in a library, a restaurant, or your home you should always know the available exits as well as the exits you can make.

Available exits include primaryegresses such as doors and windows. Exits that you can make include breaking through a window or a thin wall.

Stay Away from Hostile Areas

This might seem obvious but can easily be overlooked. Civil unrest typically takes place around institutions of authority, i.e. downtown areas. These are areas that we are used to visiting because they include restaurants, grocery stores, police stations, post offices, utility service providers, and the like.

Any business that needs to be done with these entities should be carried out over the internet or the phone. Help family and friends that are not as savvy in electronic services. In my experience, businesses are willing to work with you during extreme circumstances

Abide by Rules Put in Place

If a curfew is put into place, then make sure you are indoors by the appropriate time. If it is recommended that you do not visit certain areas, then do not go there.

Generally, these are measures put into place for our safety as well as those who are trying to curb the violent behavior. The less people there are on the streets will hopefully make their jobs easier in bringing the chaos to an end.

Blocked Roadways

One tactic is to block roadways with physical objects, thus denying passage. But a more popular tactic is to block roadways with the presence of people. It gives the illusion that the motorist can still pass if the individuals move aside.

Sadly, that is usually not the case. Once the motorist is close and surrounded by people the driver instinctively stops because they do not want to hurt anyone. This offers an opportunity for the vehicle and its occupants to be attacked.

Should you come upon a blocked roadway, stop, turn around immediately, and find an alternative way around.

If that is not an option, I recommend that the wheels do not stop moving. Even at slow speeds it gives the impression that the driver will continue regardless of being surrounded.

Camouflage at Home

In a worst-case scenario,spread trash and broken items around your house as a means of misdirection. By doing this rioters may think that your house has already been attacked and move on. This can help protect your property from further aggression.

Protect your Home

It is a good idea to have supplies on hand in which you can use to board up your home. Sheets of plywood, 2×4’s, nails, screws, screwdrivers, hammers, and prybars will help in blocking off windows and doors from potential threats.

This article goes into more detail about fortifying your home.

Have Cash

Cash is king and having some on hand can be a tremendous help. During civil unrest banks may unavailable and power could be down making electronic transactions inoperable. Cash will provide a way of obtaining goods as well as a possible way out of the effected area.

This article covers more on money for survival purposes.

Be prepared to be self-sufficient

Civil unrest can affect many things including the access to basic services. Food, water, and power can all be severely limited or severed during such an event.

I recommend that you have enough supplies on hand to ride out the storm for a minimum of a few weeks.

For more information check out these links for information on survival foods to stockpile as well as what to consider for sheltering in place.

Avoid Confrontational Conversations

This is a time where watching what you say really is a good idea. Whether that be in person, on the phone or on social media.

During civil unrest, tensions are at an all time high and you may not know who you can really trust. A quick slip up could result in becoming an unwanted target. It may be best to keep opinions to yourself for the duration.

Protecting Yourself

It really does not matter your standpoint on violence, if you want to survive, then the reality of the situation dictates that you protect yourself.

Whether that be through the means of a personal protective device or being able to protect yourself physically. A plan needs to be in place in which you can defend yourself and those you love from an outside force.

Wrapping It Up

Here is an interesting video on this topic:

At the end of the day, whether you survive is really up to you. Pay attention to what is going on around you and choose your actions wisely.

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.