How To Escape A Riot


Here are a few ideas of how to escape a riot, should you ever get caught up in one.

Stay calm and keep your emotions in check. Riots coincide with intense emotions that boil to the surface, but if you want to survive one you would be better off keeping your own emotions in check. In the heat of the moment, your adrenaline and survival instincts will kick in, but try to think rationally and pursue safety in a methodical manner.

Avoid confrontation. Keep your head down, while at the same time looking for safe exit.

Walk. Don’t run. Don’t stop. If you run or go too quickly, you might attract unwanted attention.

Get inside and stay there. Typically riots happen in the streets, or somewhere outside. Being inside, especially in a large and sturdy structure, can be good protection to wait it out.

Keep your doors and windows locked. Don’t watch the riot from windows or porches. Move to inside rooms, where the danger of being hit by stones, bullets, or other is minimized. Try to find at least two possible exits in case you need to evacuate the building in a hurry.

Stay on the sidelines. If you’re caught up in a riot, don’t take sides. Try to look as inconspicuous as possible, and slowly and carefully move to the outside of the mob. Stay close to walls or other protective barriers if possible but try to avoid bottlenecks. These are areas where the crowd can be squashed into a tight place, such as tunnels, pillars, high fences and walls that go on for a long way.

If you’re caught up in a car, stay calm. Remain inside the car unless your car becomes a focus for the riot, in which case it risks being torched, smashed or rolled over. Calmly and swiftly leave it behind and get to safety if that happens. If people seem to block your escape route; honk your horn, and carefully drive through or around them at a moderate speed, and they should get out of the way. Driving towards police lines can be interpreted by the police as a preparation to use the car as a weapon against them. DON’T DO IT.

Move away from the riot. The more time you spend in the midst of a riot, the greater your chance of being injured or killed. That said, in most circumstances it’s better to move out of a riot slowly. It can also be dangerous to move against a crowd, so go with the flow until you are able to escape into a doorway or up a side street or alley. Think of crowd movement like currents in the ocean. In a large riot, the crowd in the middle will be moving faster than the people on the perimeters. As such, if you find yourself in the middle, you should not try to move in a different direction, but follow the flow and slowly make your way to the outside. This requires patience in order to work properly.

Watch your footing in a mob situation. If you stumble and fall to the ground you’re likely to be trampled. This is especially dangerous in stadiums and other enclosed areas, where many unfortunate victims have been crushed to death. If you fall down, pull yourself up into a ball. Protect your face, ears and internal organs. In this position you are a smaller object that can be avoided. You will receive less damage if you are stepped on. If others trip on you they will help create a larger “pile” that rioters will avoid.


  1. All good advice. If the riot is largely made up of people very different from you, that is a different race, language or culture then YOU are probably considered ‘fair game” and in fact probably specifically targeted. The riot might be about a soccer game but it can quickly turn into “kill whitey”. It makes no difference if you are female and it is quite possible that the person who attacks you might be female. The attack may be superficial and you may be tempted to fight back or voice your anger. Do not, keep moving, there are others in the crowd who are friends of your attackers and probably are moving towards you even as you are sucker punched or shoved. Keep moving, keep your spouse/girlfriend/friends moving. The odds are against you and that may not be obvious until it’s too late. Nothing is better right at that moment then distance. Let the thugs find someone else to beat up.

  2. all good info/advice.

    for some reason, this type of scenario has always been a concern in my mind…Suppose from seeing on t.v. some horrific results.

  3. Ahhhh, this reminds me of the good old days of march 1968, a 18 year old kid and being in the 82nd Airborne Airborne Division in Washington DC. quelling the riots there. Fixed bayonets with live ammo in m-14 rifles. We were trained to form a wedge covering the whole street and walk toward the crowd. There would be one or two 10 man squads in the center of the wedge and as we came to side streets we were to pivot forcing part of the crowd down the side street while the reserve squads either filled in the front or went down the side street. The different formations were “Echelon Left” a diagonal line to the left to move the crowd Left, “Echelon Right” to move the crowd to the right, “Wedge Formation” and the “Flying Wedge” this was an extreme max force formation designed to wreck havoc, over run the crowd so the rioters could be arrested by forces behind us. My advice if you are caught in a riot is to leave it at a 90 degree from the direction of travel. If caught in the middle of the crowd do “Baby” steps and allow the people to pass you then put as much distance between you and the riot. Be careful going into buildings it could be misconstrued that you are a looter. We also used M-79 Grenade Launchers to fire CS & CN Gas both very bad tear gas plus hand thrown Gas grenades. If caught in tear gas it reacts to body moisture so if you are sweating it will sting like Heck your eyes and mucus linings in you nose will sting and burn. We also had Arial support from helicopters to dispense CS & CN Gas so if we are wearing gasmasks get ready and go upwind. Read up on the DC Riots and the Detroit Riots some very interesting reading.

  4. great old alaska, your a jackboot thug that enjoyed fixed bayonets on american people. sad.

    1. You are a closed minded ???????? I replied what my experiences were as a member of the armed forces sent to protect firemen who were being shot by rioters, to protect Stores that were being looted by rioters If you were alive during those times MANY people were terrified of the situation and that it might escalate. I told my story so if you were caught in a situation you would know what to expect and could protect yourself form what might come. TODAY’s police are much more worse than what we did.

    1. Kent State was National Guard not active Army. and you don’t want to know what I think should have been done to those Guardsmen. At the least jail time.

      1. your reply says it all. just following orders sir….what you did was no better then kent state. “good ol days” you are a sick minded follower.

        1. Kent State was a bunch of collage kids yelling & screaming. DC was an armed insurrection with people with loud speakers directing the rioters. as I said Firemen trying to rescue people and extinguish fires were being shot and one was killed. Stores had their windows broken, looted then burned, cars were overturned in the streets and set on fire. It was not the shouting mob of soccer or football fans but an organized group of people directing the frenzied crowed for a goal and that was Civil disobedience and the overthrow of the government. I didn’t want to bring this in as your mind set will attack out of Ignorance of the time and situation but do yourself a favor read what transpired in 1966 in Detroit how the people were whipped up into a frenzy and in 1968 in Washington DC and later to a lesser degree in Watts in LA. In the 60’s much of what was called the “Inner City” was a powder Keg ready to explode. There were places taxi cab drivers refused to enter for fear of being mugged, robbed, their cabs being burned and they possibly killed. It was as close as what many are Preparing for when todays economy collapses or an EMP hits.

    2. The Kent State incident is usually misused and most of what has been said about it is not true. The mistake was the governors in calling up the guard. The guard is not trained in handling civilian riots. The second mistake was the guard’s. That is the officer in charge was clueless as to what to do and went through the maneuvers that would have preceeded firing on the crowd and as a result of the provocation of the crowd they followed through with their training and fired. The real blame for the Kent State riots and the shooting lies with the students. They burned buildings, they attacked police and other students, and most importantly they were the first ones to fire a gun. It was the firing of the gun from the crowd of students that precipitated the shooting from the guard. Everything that happened at Kent state can be blamed on the students and outside agitators who actually fired at the guard. The weathermen and revolutionay coomunist groups created the situation and rich and stupid students at Kent state went along with it for the fun. The guard had been assaulted with rocks and bottles and pushed around by a much larger force of students so when they were fired upon that was the last straw and the officer in charge gave the command to fire. Stupid? Yes. But stupid mostly defines what the students were doing at Kent State.

      1. Sadly, these students and many others like them have now reproduced and have the right to vote.

  5. Do yourself a favor and walk away when the trouble starts brewing. It’s harder than it sounds though.

    Our first impulse when we see a crowd gathering is to see what’s going on. It’s easy to get excited by the crowd’s energy, and the lure of just wanting to see what going to happen is hard to resist.

    You just have to tell yourself to get moving, the most you have to gain is to maybe see something interesting, the most you have to lose is your life.

    Go home, watch the event unfold on TV, from the safety of your home.

    1. Jerry, You bring up a very interesting human trait – “Our first impulse when we see a crowd gathering is to see what’s going on. It’s easy to get excited by the crowd’s energy, and the lure of just wanting to see what going to happen is hard to resist.”

      This is similar to people who ‘rubberneck’ as they drive by a fender-bender or accident, etc. Most humans seem to be lured to disaster or calamity (“curiosity killed the cat”) and such. Also similar to the attraction of being in a crowd in a sports arena – the adrenalin rush of the shouting masses, etc. Interesting… Like you said, if there’s a crowd, most people instinctively are very curious and are drawn closer to it. Must be coded into our DNA.

      Resisting these tendencies is important in many circumstances.

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