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How Preppers Navigate Civil Unrest

More and more people are starting to prepare for civil unrest.

The current political climate has many people feeling uncertain and scared. They feel they need to take steps to protect themselves in a variety of situations if civil unrest starts.

Prepping is one way to ensure that you’ll have the mindset, skills, and equipment necessary to handle any situation, no matter how chaotic it may become.

Let’s step through how preppers can prepare for and maneuver during civil unrest so to stay safe and secure in times of conflict.

What Is The Main Cause of Riots or Civil Unrest?

Two key factors are often at play in riots and civil unrest: socioeconomic factors and racial tensions.

Political upheaval and government instability can also contribute to large-scale civil unrest. People may feel their concerns aren’t being addressed by authorities.

These dynamics create fiery tensions that lead to protests, rioting, looting, and other forms of civil disobedience.

Recognizing these underlying causes is critical for preppers navigating civil unrest to stay safe during such tumultuous events.

Socioeconomic Factors and Racial Tensions

You may see socioeconomic factors and racial tensions fuel civil unrest, like a snowball rolling downhill.

Local laws governing peaceful protest can be enforced by police officers with tear gas which often leads to the escalation of civil disturbances.

In the U.S. today, civil unrest isn’t solely created by the police or the government. Often, there’s an organized group involved and they’re looking to achieve something through civil unrest. On top of this, you may have “agitators” who are part of adjacent groups that want things civil unrest to escalate toward violence.

Preppers must be aware of this as they plan a civil unrest survival strategy.

Know your local laws governing protests. Be aware of where the police stations are in your area, and know which family members live in or near areas prone to civil disorder.

Political Upheaval and Government Instability

As political upheaval and government instability increase, preppers should take extra precautions to ensure their safety.

Unstable governments arise when there’s no clear consensus on the path for a city, state, or country, or when the elected officials act against the will of the people.

An unstable government isn’t something Americans have seen on our soil. It’ll be difficult to predict how the government will evolve in these situations and it can be challenging to understand who has control, how strong their control is, and who to best align your allegiances with.

Local laws related to civil unrest and mass arrests may be selectively enforced making it difficult to avoid legal trouble.

what is considered civil unrest

What Are The Signs of Civil Unrest?

It’s important to be aware of the signs of civil unrest. Tension and polarization in society can be an indicator that something is about to happen.

Protests and demonstrations are also key signs. You may see group leaders become more boisterous in their demands and promote more provocative behavior by their followers. Violence, vandalism, or looting may follow.

The deployment of law enforcement or national guard units can also signal potential civil unrest while the authorities try to minimize the impact of an angry mob.

Increased Tension and Polarization in Society

Faced with increased tension and polarization in society, you’re likely feeling the pressure to prepare for any eventuality.

Tension and polarization in society turns into civil unrest in a variety of ways. It deepens divisions, fosters an “us vs. them” mentality, and erodes trust in institutions.

As polarization intensifies, disagreements become amplified, and ideological conflicts flare, pushing everyday people toward physical confrontation. This makes it easier for people to become radicalized and for misinformation to spread. Tensions spiral and escalate into increasing hostility.

Protests and Demonstrations

You may have seen large gatherings of people protesting and demonstrating in city streets.

Preppers should notice these clues to prepare accordingly for potential civil unrest. You should also keep an eye out for large groups of people gathering in public areas, and any authority figures on scene like police or national guard.

In and of themselves, protests and demonstrations aren’t full-blown civil unrest. However, they can and have evolved into civil disorder in the past when tensions escalate, random violence sparks, agitators infiltrate the group, emotions flare and spread, crowd control fails, media coverage spurs the group on, or there’s a lack of resolution or reforms.

Violence, Vandalism, and Looting

When peaceful demonstrations erupt and protests turn into civil unrest, preppers must be prepared for the possibility of violence, vandalism, and looting. Such a civil unrest incident can quickly escalate from a one-night protest or demonstration to something that lasts several days and involves physical aggression and destruction of property.

Preppers should always be aware when civil disturbances start near them, avoid areas where this is happening, and have an SHTF plan in place should something like this happen.

This form of civil unrest is often met with the deployment of law enforcement and/or the National Guard.

Deployment of Law Enforcement and National Guard

In times of civil unrest, it’s important to be aware of the deployment of law enforcement and National Guard forces in your area. Knowing when and where they’re deployed can help you plan alternate routes, stay calm, and find a safe location for yourself and your family.

Looters and rioters don’t always change their behavior for the better when there’s a police response. This may cause things to escalate. If you’re caught in this mess it may be wise to consider adopting grey man tactics and blend into the background during chaotic situations. Adjust your clothing and behavior so you don’t draw attention to yourself.

weapons used in riot control

What Sort of Weapons Are Used During Civil Unrest?

There are a variety of weapons used by rioters and law enforcement during civil unrest.

Angry mobs will have improvised weapons like Molotov cocktails, rocks, bats, and bricks. They may also have firearms and projectile weapons.

Law Enforcement may be equipped with chemical agents like tear gas and pepper spray. Non-lethal crowd control devices like rubber bullets and flashbang grenades are common as well. Each weapon serves a unique purpose in helping to restore order during civil disturbances.

Improvised Weapons: Molotov Cocktails, Rocks, and Bricks

Riots and looters are really more about causing chaos than creating change in an organized way, and their weapons reflect this.

A person who was previously peaceful and is now either radicalized or desperate for supplies will turn to the weapons they can build quickly with things around them like Molotov cocktails, rocks, and bricks – all of which can be incredibly dangerous.

While bricks and rocks are often used to enter a building to loot it, Molotov cocktails are more about destruction and chaos.

Another set of improvised weapons you might see are baseball bats and homemade batons.

If you see an unruly crowd of angry people or bad guys assembling, check their hands. What are they carrying? If you see these objects the best advice is for you to leave the area immediately.

By avoiding areas with large groups of bad people who might be causing trouble or engaging in criminal activities, preppers can increase their chances of staying safe during civil unrest.

Firearms and Projectile Weapons

With the rise of civil unrest over the past decade, it’s becoming increasingly important for preppers to have a plan for securing their family and ensuring their safety during uncertain times.

The reality is that looters, organized gangs, police, and preppers will all have firearms. You’ll see a variety that will cover everything from rubber and lead bullets all the way to bean bag guns.

Arming yourself with firearms and projectile weapons can help ensure your home is the safest place possible during these unpredictable times.

Chemical Agents: Tear Gas and Pepper Spray

In times of danger and increasing hostility, you could see the use of tear gas and pepper spray as a means of crowd control. Individuals can’t buy tear gas, but they can buy pepper spray.

Tear gas causes irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs when dispersed in the air; it can also induce coughing and vomiting. Here’s a fun fact about tear gas: It’s illegal to use it in wartime, however, governments are allowed to use it against their civilians to control crowds. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Pepper spray, on the other hand, causes irritation to the skin and temporary blindness when sprayed directly into someone’s face.

Both substances have proven effective at dispersing crowds or stopping solo attackers.

If you had no choice but to travel through a crowd, you would want a gas mask in your backpack just in case…

Non-lethal Crowd Control Devices: Rubber Bullets and Flashbang Grenades

When it comes to controlling an unruly crowd, the authorities may need more than tear gas and pepper spray; rubber bullets and flashbang grenades could be used.

Rubber bullets are typically small, metal or plastic pellets coated with rubber. These non-lethal rounds are designed to cause pain but not penetrate the skin. They usually contain a colored dye that marks the target for identification purposes.

Flashbangs, on the other hand, are explosive devices that create a very loud noise and bright light when they go off to disorient the target. They’re used quite often by police to enter a space. It gives them the chance to halt a person without causing death. The S.W.A.T. team once entered my neighbor’s house at 6 am with 3 of them and I can tell you that they were so loud that I levitated out of my bed!

Both of these methods have been used by law enforcement personnel to control an unruly mob in a civil unrest situation without causing serious injury or death.

social unrest in kenosha

Lessons Learned From The Kenosha Riots

The Kenosha riots were an important lesson for those interested in understanding civil unrest and how to navigate it.

Civil unrest survival is a delicate balance. People in the crowd may not be afraid of guns, they may not be thinking rationally, and the mob mentality can sweep over a group pretty quickly.

The police and National Guard will use whatever force is necessary – when needed – to keep a riot and destruction from spilling over into a larger area.

People Aren’t Afraid of Guns

It’s understood that Kyle Rittenhouse was protecting someone’s property in Kenosha. As a prepper, you should appreciate the guidance: don’t take a gun to a place you wouldn’t go without a gun.

Kyle’s issues started when the wrong kind of person decided he was going to take Rittenhouse’s firearm from him. The aggressor wasn’t afraid of Kyle or his AR. Not a smart idea, but it goes to show you that riots attract the wrong kind of people who can be easily convinced to try and prove they’re in control.

Just because you have a firearm in a riot doesn’t mean you’ll be left alone. It will attract attention and you’ll go from innocent bystander to defendant in under a minute.

If you have to move through an area that’s consumed by civil unrest, try to conceal carry, or find an alternate route.

Riots And Crowd Behavior Are Complex

Understanding how to handle riots and crowd behavior is tricky. For instance, in 2019, the city of Hong Kong had to navigate massive public demonstrations that turned violent.

It’s not always clear what will cause a peaceful demonstration to turn into something more dangerous. There are many factors at play, such as emotions, rhetoric, and the ways in which people interact with each other.

Preppers must take this complexity into account when faced with civil unrest and crowds that could become unruly. They should analyze their environment for potential triggers or signs of aggression from individuals or groups before making any decisions.

Preparation is key to staying safe during these situations since it’s impossible to predict what may happen next. Knowing how best to respond when things become chaotic requires preppers to have a deep understanding of the particular situation they find themselves in and also think quickly on their feet.

The Police And National Guard Will Get Rough When Necessary

When tensions run high, police officers and national guard forces might resort to rough tactics to bring the situation under control. This can include physical force, like pushing or blocking people from moving, mass arrests, or using chemical agents like tear gas or pepper spray.

Preppers should remember that while police and the national guard might be trying to de-escalate a situation, their end goal is safety. That means, if necessary, they’ll use whatever methods are required to keep the peace.

Sometimes, when police try to put down a riot, it escalates the situation. It’s difficult to predict what will happen because there’s a fine line between the amount of force required to stop a riot and what can escalate it into full-blown civil unrest. Preppers should ensure that they’re paying attention to how a crowd is behaving so they can react properly and stay safe.

You Can Be Right And Wrong At The Same Time

It’s possible to be both right and wrong simultaneously; for example, a person might have the best of intentions but use the wrong tactic to get it done.

Everything a person does is legal under the eyes of the law but as in the case of Kyle Rittenhouse, the prosecutor may see it from another angle and tell a completely different story to a jury. Don’t plan on having video available to support your side of the story.

During civil unrest, it can be difficult to know what the best course of action is. It could be that you feel as though staying in your home and waiting out events is the safest option, while others may disagree and think that bugging out is the only way to be safe.

Ultimately, it’s every individual’s responsibility to weigh the available options before making a decision you feel comfortable with.

the safest place to be during a riot

Where Is The Safest Place To Be During Civil Unrest?

The short answer is: not in the riot.

In times of civil unrest, it’s important to secure your home and avoid high-risk areas. As you start prepping, you may decide to build a safe room and invest in various radios to stay informed.

The long answer: you may decide to bug out.

Your city could become unsafe if social unrest escalates far enough. Your home may be too close to the riots limiting how long you can stay there and you decide it’s time to bug out. If you do need to bug out

Lastly, stay current on local events by monitoring breaking news outlets and have a backup plan ready if needed.

Secure Your Home: Reinforce Entry Points and Install Security Measures

Reinforcing entry points and installing security measures are essential to protect your home during civil unrest.

Fortify doors, windows, and other potential entry points as part of staying prepared for unwanted intrusions. Add locks or deadbolts to windows and doors. These will keep your home secure from a casual break-in. For extra reinforcement, consider adding bars or grills to your windows.

An alarm system is also a great way to alert you of suspicious activity near your home. Installing outdoor lighting around the perimeter of your property can be a deterrent for burglars by making it difficult for them to hide while they try to get into your home.

Additionally, invest in cameras or video surveillance systems for added security when you’re away from home so you’ll be alerted if anything unusual happens on your property. If you start preparing with these steps before civil unrest occurs you’ll have an advantage if there’s ever an emergency situation.

Avoid High-Risk Areas: Stay Away from Government Buildings and Large Crowds

One of the first rules for surviving civil unrest is to stay away from government buildings and large crowds as much as possible to avoid high-risk areas. Take extra caution when leaving your home during social unrest, especially if you need to move through areas where protests or riots are taking place.

If you’re in an area that’s experiencing civil unrest, keep a low profile and avoid dangerous situations. It may be a good idea to stay in your own neighborhood and avoid any large gatherings or demonstrations that might become dangerous.

Stay informed about the current situation with news reports and by staying alert for signs of potential danger. Knowing which streets or neighborhoods are more dangerous can help you plan ahead to reduce your risk of being caught in the middle of a volatile situation.

Steps like these can help you remain safe during times of civil unrest.

Build a Safe Room: Create a Sheltered Area in Your Home for Emergency Situations

As you build out your SHTF preps, you might think about how to build a safe room in your home or bug-out location for emergency situations.

Creating a safe room involves more than just slapping up a few walls; it requires detailed planning and thoughtful execution. You’ll need to consider materials, layout, ventilation, door locks, access points, lights, and communication equipment.

Many preppers opt for steel or concrete walls as they’re the most secure options available; however, regular drywall will suffice if layered properly with additional reinforcement like plywood sheets inside the walls.

The last two things are access to power sources and backup emergency communications. You’ll need power because you’ll need light and you’ll want to run electronic devices. Backup communication equipment is key in these scenarios so you can stay connected and keep abreast of what’s happening outside your fortified walls.

Stay Informed: Monitor Local News and Develop an Evacuation Plan if Necessary

Knowing what’s going on around you can help you prepare for civil unrest. Monitor local news and develop a bug-out plan. Pay attention to any signs that indicate imminent danger, especially reports of civil unrest or natural disasters.

Developing a bug-out plan is key in case the situation escalates. Designate a rendevous point with family or other preppers in your area where everyone can reconnect. Make sure you know all the routes out of town and have emergency supplies packed in case it becomes necessary to bug out quickly.

Keep up-to-date on alternate routes if roads become blocked due to civil unrest or road closures from natural disasters. Staying informed and prepared can give you peace of mind knowing that you’re ready for any emergency situation that may arise.

skills to develop before social unrest happens

Skills To Develop Before Social Disorder

Because civil unrest can happen quickly, you need to develop skills to help you navigate a chaotic situation before events unfold.

Self-defense training is a key skill to develop before social disorder. Learn basic martial arts and defensive techniques that’ll give you an advantage in self-protection.

Having first aid and medical skills can be essential for providing emergency medical assistance when needed.

You should also build connections with like-minded individuals through communication and networking because having a trusted group of people during these situations can be invaluable.

We’ve written an article on the Top 10 survival skills you should begin developing ahead of time.

Self-Defense Training: Learn Basic Martial Arts and Defensive Techniques

You can’t afford to be defenseless in times of civil unrest. You should consider pursuing martial arts training to give yourself a chance. This won’t be a trivial investment of time.

The basics of martial arts are simple enough that most people can pick them up relatively quickly. Find a style that matches your needs and take lessons. With patience and practice, anyone should be able to learn how to defend themselves against potential attackers during civil unrest.

Martial arts training is valuable to preppers looking for an edge in uncertain circumstances. Not only does it provide physical strength and fitness, it develops confidence and mental fortitude. It’s a great way to prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario during civil unrest.

First Aid and Medical Skills: Be Prepared to Provide Emergency Medical Assistance

You want to be prepared for medical emergencies that may arise from a civil disturbance.

Knowing basic first aid techniques will help you be ready to provide emergency medical assistance should it become necessary. It’s important to learn the basics of first aid, including how to stop bleeding, bandage wounds, and treat minor cuts or burns.

You should also be familiar with more serious medical conditions like shock, seizures, broken bones, and heart attacks. Knowing what symptoms look like can help you identify what action needs to be taken in a given situation and make sure that the injured party receives the care they need as quickly as possible.

Communication and Networking

Establishing connections with like-minded individuals is key to civil unrest survival. Seek, find, and make connections with people who share your values and goals. A strong network will prove invaluable during difficult times.

By joining forces with others, you increase your chances of acquiring resources if things go south. Having a peer group you can discuss ideas with can help you stay informed on the latest news and developments. Communication often provides insight into potential solutions or strategies for addressing issues you may face during an emergency situation.

Having a network of dependable contacts also helps ensure that someone has your back if things take an unexpected turn. Connecting with other preppers and developing trust will give you peace of mind knowing that you have allies who understand what it takes to weather any storm.

Situational Awareness: Develop the Ability to Assess Threats and Make Informed Decisions

Developing situational awareness a huge advantage for civil unrest survival. It allows you to quickly assess potential threats and make informed decisions. Being able to read and anticipate the actions of others around you is a skill you can develop through experience, observation, training, and practice.

Study civil unrest events and other emergencies to develop an understanding of what could happen next. This will help you create a plan that anticipates how your decisions will play out. Learning about mob behavior can help improve your ability to see risks before they unfold.

Knowing when to take action or become the grey man is essential for staying safe during civil unrest scenarios. Having a well-thought-out response strategy will give you the confidence to make the right choices if a threat arises.

evacuate during social unrest

Should You Bug Out During Civil Unrest?

When evaluating whether to bug out during civil unrest, it’s important to assess the immediate threat level and determine the proximity and severity of the unrest.

In deciding whether or not you should bug out, you should also consider available resources like food and water supplies, support systems, and whether or not you have multiple evacuation routes and safe destinations.

Above all else, prioritize personal and family safety in order to ensure that you and your loved ones are protected.

Evaluate the Immediate Threat Level: Determine the Proximity and Severity of the Unrest

Preppers should consider how far away the civil unrest is from their home and how severe the situation could become if it continues or escalates. Take note if the civil unrest affects your bug-out route.

Listen to reports of what’s been happening in other areas that have experienced similar unrest. This will give you a better idea of how quickly things can escalate and what kind of threats you may be facing. It will also help you decide whether or not you need to bug out.

Consider what’s motivating the unrest; this can give valuable insight into potential outcomes. If preppers understand why people are protesting and rioting, they can make more informed decisions about where they’re safe and which option is best for them: sitting tight or bugging out.

Assess Availability of Supplies and Support Systems

As you prepare for civil unrest you need to evaluate what resources are available to you. Consider what supplies and support systems are nearby, and how readily accessible they are.

Prepping for civil unrest involves stocking up on water, non-perishable food, flashlights, first aid kits, and batteries. This will help ensure that your basic needs are met should it become unsafe or impossilbe to leave your home.

Having supportive family and friends who know what’s going on can provide comfort during tumultuous times. It’s important to have people around who understand the gravity of the situation and can provide emotional support if needed.

Have a Contingency Plan: Plan Multiple Evacuation Routes and Identify Bug-out Locations

Creating a contingency plan for civil unrest is like navigating a minefield; you need to plan multiple routes of evacuation and identify safe destinations.

Bug-out locations should have available supplies, support systems, and resources. Research the area before you begin – know which roads lead where and which areas are safest in an emergency situation.

Make sure your family knows the plan; practice it regularly so everyone knows their roles in case of emergency.

To ensure safety, create multiple emergency exits from your home or workplace, and have alternate means of transportation available. Prepare a survival kit with flashlights, batteries, water, food, a first aid kit, etc., that can be carried easily during an evacuation.

Have a bug-out location identified ahead of time – whether it’s a friend’s house across town or a campground – having these details worked out will help decrease stress levels should an emergency occur.

Consider Personal and Family Safety: Prioritize Yourself and Your Family

Prioritizing the safety and well-being of your family should be your foremost concern during civil unrest. The most difficult part of this may be that you could have to turn others away… Your resources won’t be infinite; you need to know how long they’ll last for a given number of people.

Assess the risks in your local area, like potential violence or looting, to determine when to bug out. Taking a personal inventory of supplies and equipment that you may need for your family can help you make sure that everyone is safe during an emergency evacuation.

build a bug out vehicle before social unrest

Have A Bug-out Bag and Bug-out Vehicle Before It All Starts

You should always be prepared for any situation, especially in times of civil unrest.

Having a bug-out bag ready with essential items like food, water, medications, and personal hygiene products is important. Emergency tools like flashlights, multi-tools, fire starters, and portable radios should also be included.

Clothing and shelter items like extra layers of clothing, blankets, and waterproof gear are essential.

Don’t forget to include important documents like I.D. cards and digital copies of important records. It’s a good idea to have some cash reserves on hand too, and you may want a small selection of valuable items.

Essential Items: Food, Water, Medical Supplies, and Personal Hygiene

You know it’s important to have a bug-out bag in case of civil unrest. But what should you put in it?

Having adequate supplies of food, water, medications, and personal hygiene products is essential for preppers navigating civil unrest. Start with nonperishable food items that are easy to prepare and don’t require cooking. Include bottled water, as well as purification tablets or filters if needed.

Make sure your supply of prescription and over-the-counter medications is up to date; add any special medical items needed. Don’t forget basic personal hygiene products like soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper!

Emergency Tools: Flashlights, Multi-Tool, Fire Starter, and Portable Radio

The reality is that it may take you longer than a few hours to get to your bug-out location. You will need resources. Having emergency tools in your car kit can help you handle a crisis situation with confidence.

Flashlights are self-explanatory. A multi-tool is an all-in-one solution for quick repairs that don’t require complex tools. Fire starters are part of the prepper’s toolkit and are used for everything from cooking food to providing warmth in cold temperatures.

Lastly, a portable radio is a must-have item to stay current with any developing situations and weather reports that may affect your safety or ability to move freely.

Keeping these items nearby and easily accessible will allow preppers the peace of mind that comes with being prepared for anything and having a plan should civil unrest occur.

Bugging Out: Extra Clothing, Blankets, Waterproof Gear, And Shelter

Stocking up on warm clothing, blankets, and waterproof gear is essential for prepping when it comes to staying comfortable on the move. Preppers also maintain tarps and tents for protection from the elements.

If temperatures drop suddenly or if there are heavy rains, having extra layers of clothing can be a lifesaver. Carrying ponchos and tarps can provide much-needed shelter during a storm or other emergency.

Blankets are good for comfort and warmth on cold nights or if you’re in one place for extended periods of time. Preppers should also consider investing in survival suits and outdoor apparel designed specifically for warmth and comfort if civil unrest has you roughing it for a while.

Important Documents: Identification, Copies of Important Records, and Cash Reserves

Don’t leave home without copies of important documents, like identification cards, birth certificates, and property deeds, as well as a cash reserve in case of an emergency. In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends having at least three months’ worth of living expenses saved up.

While it may seem daunting to save up that much money all at once, there are many ways to start building a cash reserve even if you’re on a limited budget. One option is to set aside small amounts each month by automatically transferring funds from your checking account into a savings account. This way, you slowly and deliberately build cash reserves without thinking about it or straining your finances.

After identification and money are addressed, preppers should also keep copies of important records like insurance policies, deeds, and marriage licenses safe and secure from civil unrest. It’s best to store these items in both physical form — a fireproof safe — and digital form — like scanned onto an encrypted hard drive — so you always have access to them no matter what happens.

Having access to the necessary documents and some cash saved up before civil unrest flashes will be key to your ability to restore your life assuming things settle down.


Preparing for civil unrest can be a daunting task. It involves everything from situational awareness to having a bug-out bag in case of an angry mob or natural disaster.

Know the early warning signs of impending civil unrest that could put your family at risk. Keep up with current events by using multiple news sources to stay ahead of potentially dangerous situations.

Create an SHTF plan ahead of time so you can act quickly if necessary.

Stock up on supplies and be ready to leave your home at a moment’s notice to give yourself peace of mind that you’re prepared if civil unrest erupts.

Surviving civil unrest includes having enough food, water, and supplies to get through the duration of the event. It also involves staying out of harm’s way by avoiding crowds and areas where there may be violence taking place.

With proper planning and preparation, you’ll be able to navigate civil unrest with confidence.