By the author of Be Ready for Anything and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted
Remember in 2015 when Baltimore, Maryland was a war zone? It may have given you a sense of deja vu, flashing back to the fall when Ferguson, Missouri was under siege. We’ve seen riots in Sacramento, California; Milwaukee, Wisconsin (which the media lied about); Charlottesville, Virginia; Portland, Oregon; and all over the nation after the presidential election in 2016.
This should be telling you something.
There’s a distinct pattern when society breaks down, and as our society becomes more desperate, poverty-stricken, and lacking of moral compass, this trend will become more obvious. Note that the “lacking of moral compass” part doesn’t just refer to the thugs rioting and looting, but also to certain cops who think that their badges give them permission to behave like street thugs, too.
There’s a pattern.
Whenever unrest occurs, there is a distinct pattern:
- An outrage occurs.
- Good people react and protest the outrage.
- Those perpetrating the outrage try to quell the protest because they don’t think that the outrage was actually outrageous. (And whether it was or not can fluctuate – in some cases, force is necessitated, but in more and more cases, it is flagrantly gratuitous.)
- Others react to the quelling and join the protest.
- A mob mentality erupts. Thugs say, “Hey, it’s a free for all. I’m gonna get some Doritos and while I’m at it, beat the crap out of some folks for fun.”
- All hell breaks loose.
- The military gets called in.
- The city burns, and neighborhoods get destroyed, and no one in the area is safe.
- Cops act preemptively, out of fear, and for a time, there is no rule of law.
- If you happen to be stuck there, know this: you’re completely on your own.
Tess Pennington wrote about societal breakdowns in more detail – read her excellent article for more information on these predictable scenarios.
There’s more to come.
As people watch their precious freedom slip away, watch incidents of horrifying brutality, and watch their ability to earn a decent living disintegrate along with the national economy, you can expect this to happen more and more. It doesn’t only happen in big cities like Baltimore, as we were shown when rioting hit Ferguson, a town of just over 20,000 people. (In this article, a resident of Ferguson shares her story of the riots.)
It’s important to remember that when something happens that may (or may not) be worthy of protest, professional rabble-rousers and race-baiters like Al Sharpton will actually organize folks from other areas to go and “protest.” So even if you live in a small town filled with mostly good neighbors, you could be overrun with angry mobs that were imported specifically to wreak havoc and get their leaders some free press on the evening news.
Some people are just waiting for the opportunity to behave in this fashion.
They’d love to act like that every single day, but they don’t want to spend the rest of their lives in jail. But when a verdict gets rolled out, when a storm takes out the power, when a disaster strikes, they delight in the chance to rob, pillage, loot, and burn. Who can forget the day before Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast when thugs were coordinating looting rampages via Twitter?
I remember learning about “sublimation” in a high school psychology class.
Sublimation is a defense mechanism that allows us to act out unacceptable impulses by converting these behaviors into a more acceptable form. For example, a person experiencing extreme anger might take up kickboxing as a means of venting frustration. Freud believed that sublimation was a sign of maturity that allows people to function normally in socially acceptable ways. (source)
If you believe Freud’s theory, then it’s easy to see that many people look for an excuse to revert to their true natures. In a situation where “everyone” is doing something, they are able to cast off the normal control of their impulses without much fear of reprisal. The number of looters and thugs far outstrips the number of arrests going on in Baltimore, so there’s a very good chance that someone swept up in that mentality can go burn somebody else’s home or business and completely get away with it.
You’re completely on your own.
Let me reiterate this: DURING CIVIL UNREST SITUATIONS, YOU ARE COMPLETELY ON YOUR OWN. Do you think the people in the video above respect your home, your fence, or the locks on your doors?
And while I’m at it, let me flash forward a bit to a hypothetical future. These people aren’t even hungry.
What if the world as we know it ended? What if there wasn’t food in the grocery stores? What if there was no longer any such thing as EBT, for those who have made a career out of milking the system? What if the police and military finally threw their hands up in the air, gave up, and went home to protect their own families? Who’s going to keep your family safe then?
You have to realize that at any point in time, you could find yourself on your own, without backup from 911.
Whether civil unrest is right outside your door.
Whether a group of thugs decides to invade your home to rob and/or terrorize you.
Whether the world we know goes down, via an EMP that takes out the grid, civil war, economic collapse, or a breakdown in the national transportation network.
The only person you can rely on to protect your family is yourself.
You can stockpile until you have a decade of supplies put back, but if you can’t defend it, you don’t actually own it. You only have it because no one has bothered taking it away from you yet. You have what you have based on the goodwill of others, who are stronger, greater in number, and better armed.
You have to look at the psychology of this. People can justify pretty much anything when they or their children are starving. And I can understand that to a large degree – who could stand to watch their babies suffering? But if someone can devolve to the above degree just to because everyone else is doing it, the chaos we saw above is only a tiny sample of what could come if people were truly hungry.
Take a long hard look at the threats you face during civil unrest, and develop one. Wherever you live, whatever your situation, you need to plan as though 911 does not exist. Whether riots are occurring in the streets or not, in the seconds during which the lives of your family hang in the balance, you are completely on your own.
Following is a plan for dealing with an episode of civil unrest, taken from an article I wrote during the Ferguson riots. This plan is also applicable for societal breakdowns that occur in the aftermath of a huge disaster.
In a perfect world, we’d all be home, watching the chaos erupt on TV from the safety of our living rooms. However, reality says that some of us will be at work, at school, or in the car when unrest occurs. You need to develop a “get-home” plan for all of the members of your family, based on the most likely places that they will be.
- Devise an efficient route for picking up the kids from school. Be sure that anyone who might be picking up the children already has permission to do so in the school office.
- Discuss the plan with older kids – there have been rumors that children could be moved by the schools to a secondary location in the event of a crisis. Some families have formulated plans for their older kids to leave the school grounds in such an instance and take a designated route home or to another meeting place.
- Keep a get-home bag in the trunk of your car in case you have to set out on foot. (Here’s what I keep in my vehicle.)
- Stash some supplies in the bottom of your child’s backpack – water, a snack, any tools that might be useful, and a map. Be sure your children understand the importance of OPSEC and don’t include items that will get them suspended or arrested because of the fear-culture in our schools.
- Find multiple routes home – map out alternative backroad ways to get home as well as directions if you must go home on foot.
- Find hiding places along the way. If you work or go to school a substantial distance from your home, figure out some places to lay low now, before a crisis situation. Sometimes staying out of sight is the best way to stay safe.
- Avoid groups of people. It seems that the mob mentality strikes when large groups of people get together. Often folks who would never ordinarily riot in the streets get swept up by the mass of people who are doing so.
- Keep in mind that in many civil disorder situations the authorities are to be avoided every bit as diligently as the angry mobs of looters. Who can forget the scenes of innocent people being pepper sprayed by uniformed thugs in body armor just because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Once you make your way home or to your bug-out location …. STAY THERE.
By staying home, you are minimizing your risk of being caught in the midst of an angry mob or of sitting in stalled traffic while looters run amok. In most scenarios, you will be far safer at home than you will be in any type of shelter or refuge situation. (Obviously if there is some type of chemical or natural threat in your immediate neighborhood, like a toxic leak, a flood, or a forest fire, the whole situation changes – you must use common sense before hunkering down.)
This is when your preparedness supplies will really pay off. If you are ready for minor medical emergencies and illnesses, a grid down scenario, and a no-comm situation, you will be able to stay safely at home with your family and ride out the crisis in moderate comfort.
Be sure you have a supply of the following:
- Necessary prescription medications
- A well stocked pantry – you need at least a one-month supply of food for the entire family, including pets
- An off grid cooking method (We also have an outdoor burner, and a woodstove inside)
- Or food that requires no cooking
- A tactical quality first aid kit
- Lighting in the event of a power outage
- Sanitation supplies (in the event that the municipal water system is unusable, this would include cleaning supplies and toilet supplies)
- A way to stay warm in harsh winter weather
- Over-the-counter medications and/or herbal remedies to treat illnesses at home
- A diverse survival guide, a very thorough preparedness book, and a first aid manual (hard copies in case the internet and power grid are down)
- Alternative communications devices (such as a hand-crank radio) so that you can get updates about the outside world
- Off-grid entertainment: arts and craft supplies, puzzles, games, books, crossword or word search puzzles, needlework, journals (here are some more ideas to keep the kids entertained.)
Be prepared to defend your home
Out of all of the ways to be prepared for unrest, this is the most important one.
Sometimes despite our best intentions, the fight comes to us. Even though we stay home, something about our place draws the attention of an unsavory person or group.
Defense is two-fold. You want to stay under the radar and not draw attention to yourself. The extent to which you strive to do this should be based on the severity of the unrest in your area. Some of the following recommendations are not necessary during an everyday grid-down scenario, but could save your life in a more extreme civil unrest scenario or a situation that has gone long-term. It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Here are some tips to make your home less of a target:
Keep all the doors and windows locked. Secure sliding doors with a metal bar. Consider installing decorative grid-work over a door with a large window so that it becomes difficult for someone to smash the glass and reach in to unlock the door. Install a door bar on your front and back doors.
Keep the curtains closed. There’s no need for people walking past to be able to see what you have or to do reconnaissance on how many people are present. If the power is out, put dark plastic over the windows. (Heavy duty garbage bags work well.) If it’s safe to do so, go outside and check to see if any light escapes from the windows. If your home is the only one on the block that is well-lit, it is a beacon to others.
Keep cooking smells to a minimum, especially if there is a food shortage. If everyone else in the neighborhood is hungry, the meat on your grill will draw people like moths to a flame.
Don’t answer the door. Many home invasions start with an innocent-seeming knock at the door to gain access to your house.
Keep pets indoors. Sometimes criminals use an animal in distress to get a homeowner to open the door for them. Sometimes people are just mean and hurt animals for “fun”. Either way, it’s safer for your furry friends to be inside with you.
Fire is of enormous concern in these types of scenarios. Fire is a cowardly attack that doesn’t require any interaction on the part of the arsonist. It flushes out the family inside, leaving you vulnerable to physical assaults.
Be ready for the potential of fire.
Have fire extinguishers mounted throughout your home. You can buy them in 6 packs from Amazon
Be sure to test them frequently and maintain them properly. (Allstate has a page about fire extinguisher maintenance.)
Have fire escape ladders that can be attached to a windowsill in all upper story rooms. Drill with them so that your kids know how to use them if necessary.
Have bug-out bags prepared that contain all of your important documents in them in case you have to grab and go.
If, despite your best efforts, your property draws the attention of people with ill intent, you must be ready to defend your family and your home.
For some, vandalizing and destroying property is the order of the day. Often, times of civil unrest give people of a certain mentality the excuse they need to seek vengeance against those who have “more” than they do. Tensions erupt between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. When this occurs, often destruction of property is the way these people choose to show their “power”.
While this starts out as purely a property crime, the situation can quickly turn violent. If someone is outside bashing the headlights of your vehicle, it isn’t a far stretch to think that they’ll bash on you if you confront them.
How to respond to this is a very individual decision, and depends to a great extent on your personal skill levels and confidence. For example, I’m a single mom with daughters. As much as I like my Jeep, it’s unlikely that I’d confront an angry mob destroying it, because that just wouldn’t be sensible. Things can be replaced, but you and your family members cannot. If you are a person who is unaccustomed to physical confrontations, you may be better off staying inside and calling your insurance company after the fact. No possession is worth your life or the lives of your family.
Alternatively, in some situations, it won’t stop with the destruction of your property. You may have to defend your home. And for this, you MUST BE ARMED.
I’m sure I’ll receive another barrage of email wishing me and my children dead by our own guns. (It always amazes me how people who swear vehemently that they’re against violence can send me those letters that fervently hope for bloody and terrifying deaths for us.) Some people are so terrified of self-defense tools that the very idea of using one causes veritable spasms of cognitive dissonance and denial.
Those very same people will tell you that they’ve survived riots or unrest and never had to have a gun or shoot anyone. Chances are, you won’t have to unholster your weapon. But this is a plan based on pure luck, and survival favors the prepared. I do not base my preparations for my family on the hope for good luck.
Firearms are an equalizer. A small woman can defend herself from multiple large intruders with a firearm, if she’s had some training and knows how to use it properly. But put a kitchen knife in her hand against those same intruders, and her odds decrease exponentially.
If the situation does escalate and the lives of you and your loved ones are in danger, there is no substitute for meeting force with force. You may not wish to engage, but sometimes there’s no time to escape. Sometimes there’s no place to escape to. In these situations, you won’t be able to talk your way out of it, hide from it, or throw dishes at the intruders to fight them off.
Don’t rely on 911. If the disorder is widespread, don’t depend on a call to 911 to save you – you must be prepared to save yourself. First responders may be tied up, and in some cases, the cops are not always your friends. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some officers joined in the crime sprees, and others stomped all over the 2nd Amendment and confiscated people’s legal firearms at a time when they needed them the most.
Be armed and keep your firearm on your person. When the door of your home is breached, you can be pretty sure the people coming in are not there to make friendly conversation over a nice cup of tea. Make a plan to greet them with a deterring amount of force. Be sure to keep your firearm on your person during this type of situation, because there won’t be time to go get it from your gunsafe. Don’t even go to the kitchen to get a snack without it. Home invasions go down in seconds, and you have to be constantly ready.
Know how to use your firearm. Whatever your choice of weapon, practice, practice, practice. A weapon you don’t know how to use is more dangerous than having no weapon at all. Here’s some advice from someone who knows a lot more about weapons than I do.
Make sure your children are familiar with the rules of gun safety. Of course, it should go without saying that you will have pre-emptively taught your children the rules of gun safety so that no horrifying accidents occur. In fact, it’s my fervent hope that any child old enough to do so has been taught to safely and effectively use a firearm themselves. Knowledge is safety.
Have a safe room established for children or other vulnerable family members. If the worst happens and your home is breached, you need to have a room into which family members can escape. This room needs to have a heavy exterior door instead of a regular hollow core interior door. There should be communications devices in the room so that the person can call for help, as well as a reliable weapon to be used in the unlikely event that the safe room is breached. The family members should be instructed not to come out of that room FOR ANY REASON until you give them the all clear or help has arrived. You can learn more about building a safe room HERE. Focus the tips for creating a safe room in an apartment to put it together more quickly.
Plan an escape route. If the odds are against you, devise a way to get your family to safety. Your property is not worth your life. Be wise enough to know if you’re getting into a fight that you can’t win.
Civilization is just a veneer.
So many times, when interviewed after a disaster, people talk about being “shocked” at the behavior of others. Their level of cognitive dissonance has lulled them into thinking that we’re safe and that we live in a civilized country. They are unwilling to accept that civilization is only a glossy veneer, even when the evidence of that is right in front of them, aiming a gun at their faces, lighting their homes on fire, or raping their daughters.
They refuse to arm themselves and prepare for an uncivilized future.
Accept it now, and you’ll be a lot better off when the SHTF.
Look at the videos of what’s going on in Baltimore. Look at what happened during the Ferguson riots. Look at the behavior of the stampeding masses on any given Black Friday shopping extravaganza.
Then tell me how “civilized” our country is.
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