What happens if you are stuck in a large riotous crowd? Now, this can be the result of an evacuation or bug out situation, a protest, food riot or any other mob-ruled violence.
Now, back in the early 70s, I was working undercover and got caught in a couple of the anti-war riots that occurred during this period. Once, I even ended up on the wrong side of a police line, not the right place to be.
Last night I was watching a movie and they showed the people traveling in a large, panicky crowd. Our heroes made several dumb moves. First, they tried to drive through a crowd having the only running vehicle. This does not work unless you are willing to kill people and even then, you most likely won’t get out of the crowd alive. It’s important to know how to safely survive a riot.
If you are on the road during a bug out and there is a large and desperate crowd in front of you, reverse course. Find another route, even if it means abandoning your vehicle. This is why I recommend having a detailed map, like this one, as well as a GPS. Remember, crowds are something to be feared. A panicky crowd will have no conscience.
Going back to our movie, our hero made a second mistake: he pulled a firearm. All this did was result in the loss of the firearm and him almost being killed. If you have a firearm in a crowd, try to keep it out of sight, and for sure, don’t pull it out and threaten someone.
The best solution is to avoid being caught in crowds, but sometimes you have no choice. You may be attending a large public event like a ball game or simply have to work in a bad area.
So, here are some ideas to help you stay safe in a riot or panicky crowd
- If you see people start to mass, don’t get curious and wait to see what is happening. Leave now.
- Be familiar with your area. Even if you’re just visiting a location, you should still get to know your surroundings as much as possible. Study a map and have a good idea of where you are, directionally.
- Think about your possible escape routes and safe havens before anything actually happens.
- If you work in a volatile environment, make sure you know several routes for getting home so that you have a number of methods of escape in the event of a riot.
- Carry small amounts of cash with you in case you need to quickly arrange transportation, pay off looters, or address your basic needs.
- 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. The book, Left of Bang, delves into this and is a good read as well.
- Avoid confrontation by keeping your head down. Think “gray man”. How could you blend in and not attract attention?
- Walk at all times at a casual pace. If you run or move too quickly, you might attract unwanted attention.
- Keep your loved ones close. If you’re not alone, then the first thing you should do is grip the hands or lock elbows with all of the people who are with you. If you’re with a child, hold them in your arms so they aren’t trampled. Sticking together with your loved ones should be your first priority
- Don’t get involved or take sides.
- Try to get out of the crowd, don’t try to move against it, but try to work your way to the sides at an angle and find a way out.
- When you get to the side, either leave the area or find a safe spot in a building. Just by moving inside a sturdy and controlled building, you may find protection. The first thing you should do if you enter a building is look for an escape route or back door. Hopefully this will let you out onto another side or alley that is free of the crowd. Don’t hide in upper stories.
- If you find safety in a building, don’t watch the riot from the windows, this may attract attention and will increase your chances of getting hurt.
- Look out for fire. If the angry mob turns toward the building, it can be a target. Try to have an escape route.
- The best thing to do is to get as far away from the crowd as possible. But as you are leaving, watch to make sure no predators are following you. If you have a firearm this is when it will be most useful.
- Depending on the circumstances, the police and authorities may or may not be your friend. Avoid them if necessary as they may assume you are one of the rioters. If they are in limited strength and under attack, stay away from them.
Hopefully you never get caught in this situation. Planning ahead and living and working in good areas, can help keep you and your family safe. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done!
Updated in July, 2020