Whether at home or abroad, civil unrest is a modern problem with which you may have to contend. Whenever people feel threatened or powerless and believe that their concerns are not being heard or addressed by the powers that be, civil unrest occurs. It can also happen when there is a natural disaster and chaos reigns.
Types of Civil Unrest
Civil unrest is an act of disorder prejudicial to public law and order. It can include acts of violence and unlawful obstruction or assembly. Most instances fall under one of the following:
Protests tend to be non-violent and are usually planned and well-regulated. Many people feel that a riot is an expression of power rather than resentment over a real issue. The images that get the most attention during riots are those of people burning cars, damaging buildings or stealing from stores. This serves the dramatic purposes of the media but does not engender sympathy from the public.
A riot is a disorganized rebellion that centers around a social issue. Rebellions can be either violent or nonviolent, but they try to change the social order when things are inequitable. Policy changes are their key goal, as opposed to merely blowing off steam. You may see a number of social groups form after riots to address problems that had been previously ignored in the community.
How to Be Prepared
One of the most important skills to develop in life is situational awareness. Don't be oblivious to what takes place around you. Also, experts suggest that it is good to carry the following things on your person at all times:
You can also keep cameras outside of your home for security in case of any looting.
Secure Your Home
You can make a safe room in your home or otherwise fortify your house as a preparation for such events. Check all door locks and board all windows in case of emergency or have double glass installed when the house is built. It is also important to stay informed. There are many apps on your phone that can provide you with constant news about ongoing emergencies. It might be advisable to have a shortwave radio to communicate with others in case the internet goes down. Self-reliance is the most important quality you must display in situations like this. Be prepared to defend yourself and your family and know the laws in your area.
Develop a Plan
Developing a plan looks different depending on whether you're home or traveling when you experience civil unrest. If you are at home, it is possible to stockpile necessities you may need to “ride out“ the situation. Don't forget your pets, medications, and a first aid kit when stockpiling. It is good to have a network of people with whom you have set meeting points and times. It is important you are exact in planning this since cell service may go down after the unrest begins. You can also practice the plan you have developed before the event occurs to work out any kinks.
If you are traveling, the best plan is to register with the American embassy in the country you are visiting. Make them aware of your travel plans and routes. Prior to traveling, learn as much as you can about the area to which you are going. It is also important to know what the laws of that specific country are when people are protesting. If you cannot avoid the area where the protest is occurring, it is good to at least know how to avoid ending up in a foreign court.
10 Tips for Staying Safe During Civil Unrest
The most important things to do if you want to avoid unrest is to stay abreast of the news and remain calm. Many people become emotional in emergency circumstances and exacerbate the civil unrest that is occurring. Make sure you're not one of these people. Here are ten tips for avoiding civil unrest at home and away.
Alternate Route Plans
Anytime you are in a place that is unfamiliar, you should have researched all evacuation routes out of that location. This will help you in case there is a natural disaster or another emergency, or any threat to your person or the building. If you are traveling, get to know the area and speak to the hotel staff in regard to any safety issues. They should be able to tell you what areas to avoid.
Avoid Heavily Policed or Secured Areas
Whether it is domestically or abroad, it is never good practice to walk towards police in a situation in which you are not involved. Although your curiosity may get the best of you, it is never advisable to involve yourself with the police unnecessarily. Large police presence can also be a good indicator that there may be some civil unrest occurring at a local meeting area.
Work with the Police
It is imperative to remember that the police may be very busy during occasions of civil unrest and unable to answer your questions. If you find yourself in an area where a protest will occur that you were unaware of, take care of yourself as much as possible. Only look to the police if you are in danger. You may document events that are taking place, either with the police or the participants in the unrest. However, do so safely, and evacuate the area when necessary or asked to do so.
If the police are arresting people, do not resist them. In situations of civil unrest, things are chaotic and confusing and often people are seen as being in the wrong when they are not. Have faith that once the situation has settled down, the police will resolve any problems and you will be released.
If you find yourself stuck in the middle of a crowd make sure you stay on your feet. Make every attempt to get to the outskirts of the crowd as that tends to be the safest area. Once you are on the edge of the crowd, there are several places you can seek refuge.
Find Safe Spots
People are not the only danger you may face in a situation of civil unrest. If tempers flare and some members of the protest riot, there may also be flying objects. When trying to find a safe spot, you should
Never Drive Near Groups of People
As the entire country probably knows by now, the driver who ran into and killed Heather Heyer has been found guilty of first-degree murder. You should absolutely never move the vehicle if there are groups of people around you. Your movements may be unpredictable to them and theirs might be unclear to you. You should follow the next step if you ever find yourself stuck in your vehicle.
Leave the Vehicle
If you find that your route has been blocked by a protest or some other civil unrest, the best thing to do is to park, turn your car off, lock it, and leave it to find shelter. If you are not able to park due to the large crowd, stop where you are, turn the car off, lock your doors and remain calm. Do not engage with any protesters even if they yell at you. In natural disasters or other emergencies, it is advisable when you are blocked to abandon your vehicle as soon as possible.
There are often many people who gather at transit areas during civil unrest. You may end up surrounded by crowds of people as confused as you, which is not helpful. This goes along with not putting yourself in any unnecessary danger. It is always best to keep a low profile in the situations.
What to Do after Civil Unrest
When the unrest has ended and things are safe, it is best to seek relief from any organizations there to help people who have been affected. It is also a good time to report any property damage or crimes that have been committed. The most important thing you can do at this point in time is to notify all of your friends and family members that you are safe. There are a variety of methods for doing this on social media.
You must remember that in any civil unrest, many people will develop a crowd mentality. This may cause them to lose their inhibitions and adopt the groups' principles and behave in a way they might not in other situations. Be prepared for this possibility and keep your wits about you to get out of civil unrest rather than letting it get the best of you.