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  • Writer's pictureAndy Murphy

How to Survive Civil Unrest

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

Surviving Civil Unrest: 5 Things You Need to Do

Today we’re going to cover a topic that when I started The Secure Dad, I didn’t think I’d ever be talking about, civil unrest. But this brand evolves and continues to push boundaries to help us all become safer.

Here are 5 things we all need to know to survive civil unrest.

Community Awareness

First up, let’s be aware of what’s going on in our communities. This is when we need to be reading news stories from our local area, following local law enforcement on social media and listening to what our friends are talking about.

Don’t get blindsided by a riot happening near your home. You can’t ignore a situation like this in your area. While a specific riot may be hard to pinpoint, any large gathering of people, no matter how peaceful it starts can evolve to a threatening situation. Everyone in America has the first amendment right to protest, it’s when outside agitators come in and stir the pot, that things get dicey.

Follow these groups on social media or subscribe to their email list. Usually they’ll talk about where they’ll be and when they’ll start. If you’re concerned you’ll end up on a government watch list for following an extremist group, I hear ya. So search for them and read up on what they’re doing in your area without following them.

The Police May Not Respond

Second, and this is a sad and scary one, you can’t assume that the police will be there to protect you. I think we’ve all seen a new side to rioting and law enforcement over the past few weeks. Many police departments were pulled out of areas or told to keep a safe distance during riots.

This a clear reminder that during crazy times like this, our normal processes will be interrupted. Where we may normally call 911 and expect someone to be there to help us in 3 minutes, that may not be possible. It is best that you do what you can to protect yourself and do it legally.

Be Ready to Leave

Third, be prepared to leave if you have to. No one likes the idea of leaving their home behind when something might happen to it but it’s just stuff.

Stuff can be replaced. You can’t.

I suggest you pack a bug out bag for this reason. A go bag, or bug out bag, is one that’s packed with things you may need during an emergency like food, water, medicine and defensive tools. For more on how to build your own bug out bag I’ve collaborated with an experienced friend on the basics of what you need to pack in your bag. Sign up and get How to Build a Bug Out Bag for free.

Build Your Own Bug Out Bag

Another thing to consider, just like I’ve said with hurricanes and wildfires, don’t wait for the government to tell you to evacuate. If you feel like you need to get your family out, that’s your call. Don’t put that responsibility on someone else. If your research concludes that there is a high risk of your property being damaged and your family being harmed, get out as soon as it is safe.

Escape May not be Easy

Fourth, if you have to get out, leaving may not be easy. Fleeing a violent riot may not be as simple as getting everyone in the car and driving off.

Groups may be blocking roads and trying to control territory, like an autonomous zone or something as hyper-local as a group that’s making a power play to control residents. You may have to leave on foot.

To get a better idea of what’s going on beyond your street, look for clues from Google maps. In the case of the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle you see yellow exclamation point icons with road closure icons telling you where a territory may begin and end.

If you are in your car and you encounter something like this, you may have to abandon your car and go on foot. For more on that, check out my bonus MiniCast Protecting Your Family Vehicle from a Riot.

Know What's Happening Around You

Lastly, work on improving your situational awareness. In going about your daily life, any group of 5 or more people you need to pay attention to, especially in this Covid-19 world we have now. That many people together may indicate an organized event may be happening soon.

And as always keep your face out of your phone in public and don’t use ear buds. You’ll hear a riot coming before you’ll see it.

Last week Yousef Badou was on the show and in a bonus episode he and I talked about riot environments and how to avoid group violence. Yousef has done a free training on this through his company Emergence Disrupt and it’s fantastic and free. So make the investment of 45 minutes to learn how to deal with a riot environment specifically.

I hope you are able to keep danger distant when it comes to civil unrest. We’ve seen a perfect storm of unrest over the last few weeks.

We’ll get over this. We’ll change for the better, I hope, and soon life will get back to normal. But for now, we need to remain vigilant and ready to defend those that we love.


Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.


Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

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