How to Prepare for and Survive Civil Unrest (Complete Guide)

The world as we know of today is wrought with violence and political complexities. In such a situation, protests and other forms of movements against the authorities are very well expected. 

One of the fundamental human rights is the right to expression and protest demonstrations are very much the same. 

However, it takes very little time for things to get out of hand. In case it does, one needs to be prepared to face it well in advance. In this article, we discuss how one should prepare for and survive civil unrest situation. 

What is Civil Disorder?

To prepare for it, you must know what it is at first and how it originates. Whenever there is a reason that makes people feel oppressed, protest is the choice of action. Most of the times such protests are peaceful in nature and organized in view of making the authority answerable to whatever has happened. 

But, the problem arises when things escalate and take a different turn. That is when it becomes a civil disorder. It is but natural that such unrest becomes a bigger problem in cities which have a huge population. This is because the more people gather the more is the collective feeling of betrayal and injustice. 

What to carry to a protest?

Under many systems of government, protest can become a regular thing. Sometimes for the voices to be heard, people need to protest against various injustices. But it takes no time for a peaceful gathering to change into a riot-like situation and one must be fully prepared to face the worst. 

Here’s a comprehensive list of things that one might carry if they are planning to participate in a protest…

  1. Backpack with Hip Straps: This will contain the gear necessary for self defense, so this should be a heavy-duty bag which doesn’t take up a lot of space. 
  1. Full body covers: You should wear clothing that protects every part of your body to reduce the harm that can be caused by police brutality.
  1. Running shoes: One must always wear shoes that are both comfortable and easy to run in if they are to participate in a protest.
  1. Gas mask and goggles: Tear Gas and water cannons are prevalent forms of physical restraints used by the authoritative forces during any riot-like situation. A gas mask and a pair of goggles can save your eyes and lungs from the harmful effects of these. 
  1. Alcohol-based sunscreen: If you are planning to join a protest, make sure you don’t use an oil-based sunscreen because tear gas reacts very badly with its components and can cause a burning sensation.
  1. Earplugs: Many times the police can use sonic sounds to control the crowd. You can avoid it by using earplugs or earmuffs. 

These are the basic equipment that you should always carry at a protest. But apart from these, there are many more which should also be carried in case one has to run away or be in running after the disruption of the unrest situation. Here’s a list of things that you should carry in the backpack while attending a protest –

  1. A change of clothes: You must carry this in case you have to flee but you had already been noticed by an official. You might also need the change in case your clothes are torn, burnt or bloody due to the violence. 
  1. Water in a bottle: One must always carry water to a protest. It is more advantageous if it is a squirt bottle so that it can help in sprinkling water onto the eyes or face in case that is necessary.
  1. A basic first aid kit: Injuries are not at all uncommon if a peaceful protest turns into a riot-like situation. This is why it is crucial for every protester to have a first aid kit of their own. This kit must contain, cotton, gauge, disinfectant, ointment, basic pain medication, bandages and scissors. In cases of extreme chaos, it is important to help each other.
  1. Medical gloves: If a protest turns violent, it is a given fact that some people will get injured and it should be the responsibility of other fellow protesters to help them. In such a situation if some complicated medical action has to take place which involves touching the wound or the area around it, it is essential to use a new medical glove to do the same. This will lessen the chances of infection caused in the wound thereafter. 
  1. Prescription medicines: There is a high chance for protesters to get arrested or detained by the authoritative forces. In such cases, one doesn’t know how long one has to stay locked up. One might also have to take shelter in an unfamiliar place for some days. This is why carrying prescription medicines is important if someone has planned to go to a protest. 
  1. A communication device such as a radio: communication devices is very important in such cases. Chances are mobile phones might be destroyed and lost during mob chaos. Many times connections are jammed by the authorities to stop the flow of information outside the area. This is why a radio device is useful in connecting with the world at large and the near and dear ones in particular. 
  1. Cash money: You will need cash to escape from any situation. You might also need it to buy water and food for yourself or someone else. You might also need it for bail or even to bribe someone. 

What to avoid in a protest?

Now that you know what to carry to a protest to survive, you must also know about the things that should be avoided –

  1. Make-Up: You must refrain from using makeup because the substances used in most makeup react in bad ways with the tear gas and other substances with which the police forces attack.
  1. Contact Lens: Wearing a contact lens to a march is extremely dangerous. It may come off or it might catch an infection from the mixture of tear gas components, dust and other particles.
  1. Oil-Based Lotions: If mixed with chemicals oil-based lotions can cause immense pain in the form of burning and itching. 
  1. Clothing that is inflammatory in nature: Such forms of clothing is not only dangerous to the person wearing it but can also prove harmful to people around. One must avoid it at all costs.
  1. Anything illegal: It is a given fact that detention is not uncommon. You might also be arrested. It is safe to not carry any item that is illegal in nature and can get you into trouble if you are detained or arrested by the police. 

How to survive if you are stuck?

One might also get stuck inside their house when there is unrest going on in the area. It is advisable to stock up on certain items if you can judge that it will be a long process. Here’s a list of things you can follow –

  1. Stock up on the supply of food and drinking water. 
  2. Charge your devices continuously and never let them run low.
  3. Secure all the entrances and exits of the house.
  4. If you have a car, make sure to fill the tank up and keep the car in the garage. 
  5. Ration the use of toilet paper and water.
  6. Stick together with the other family members and pets.
  7. Let other family members know of your location and condition and keep them updated.
  8. Always have a first aid kit at your disposal.
  9. Keep an eye out for any troublemakers.

Conclusion — Prepare for and Survive Civil Unrest

Civil unrest is not that uncommon. Neither is it something that has the possibility of vanishing. One can support protests and be a part of them but nobody can estimate if things will escalate. This is why one must always be prepared to face the worst if something of the sort is supposed to be organised around your residence.

Article by:

Eric Birch

Eric Birch is a survival specialist trained in the U.S. military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) program. When he’s not ferociously learning new survival tactics, he enjoys the great outdoors, and/or cheering on one of his favorite sports teams.

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