The most astonishing fact about civil unrest is that it is happening more and more these days. With the media presenting only one side of the story, usually the wrong one, the one that increases audience; it seems that civil unrest will become a “normal” scenario in our daily lives. Politicians are making a mess of this country, and police officers abuse their power and people become more and more frustrated and nervous. The conditions for civil unrest are met every day and at some point, it will involve us.
Civil unrest can arise from the anger of people. It only takes a small spark to light up an entire neighborhood. Anger over an unpopular policy, a collapse of the currency, a food shortage or anything like that could cause civil unrest, especially in a population that’s already on edge and no longer trusts its authority figures.
There are various types of civil unrest that affect us in different ways. As preppers and law-abiding citizens, we should know how to respond, if we’re caught up in it. You won’t find much information on Google or in the media about what you should do in the event of civil panic. You’re all alone and you should know how to protect yourself and your loved ones when civil unrest hits your area.
Here are the definitions of civil unrest as depicted by a trustworthy source that used to work for the government:
Level One Civil Unrest
This is the lowest level of civil unrest and it usually involves people turning on their own neighborhood due to various reasons. An excellent example of this type of civil unrest would be the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. This level is most destructive for the people who live, work or must travel in the immediate area. The level one civil unrest is spontaneous, frenzied and undisciplined. It is confined to a narrow geographical zone, usually, the one where the protestors live. Police response is harsh and localized. There is no threat for the typical Joe unless he is in the middle of it.
Level Two Civil Unrest
This level of civil unrest is also focused on a single area. However, in this case, the rioters and protesters have deliberately targeted a specific mark to impose maximum disruption. It is the most common civil unrest in America, today. Level two unrest is usually planned or semi-planned and it involves looting in most of the cases. Gangs organize with the help of social media and target specific businesses or areas of interest. The target is chosen deliberately and even though it is focused in one area, it will disrupt normal life in a whole region. Police response is harsh, but it requires a much more precise coordination and force deployment as gangs go for one or more targets at the same time, to create confusion. It can become deadly for persons owning the targeted business or for the people working there.
Level Three Civil Unrest
The level three of civil unrest is the one that causes disruption at state or regional level. In the past two years, if you’ve followed the media, you’ve probably noticed the tendency to promote a race war. Racisms and power abuse it is the primary argument that causes a level three civil unrest. Fergusson, Missouri is probably the best example for level three.
For this level of civil unrest, the original cause or location of the trouble doesn’t matter; everyone in the region is affected. Some of the effects of a level three civil unrest include travel restriction, mass arrests, roadblocks and other harsh “emergency” restrictions. Police response can be brutal and there is an impressive amount of forces being deployed, all in an effort to control the situation. It can affect you directly and the only safe option for you and your family is to hunker down in your own house.
Related reading: How to bug in and survive.
Level Four Civil Unrest
This is the level three on a national level, it is martial law. If things get this bad, the government will be the biggest threat to everyone. Regardless the cause that started it, everyone will be affected, there will be random ID checks, food and fuel rationing, controls on weapons and supply and other restrictions that will make you feel trapped in your own city. I’ve written an article appreciated by readers and it can teach you how to survive in martial law. You can read more about it here.
Here is what we can do to be prepared for civil unrest:
Keep your standard emergency preps up to date
If you are new to prepping you should make sure you have all the supplies you need. Backup food, water and other supplies that will keep you in good condition regardless the nature of the disaster, from severe storms to social breakdown or even long-term unemployment. More than 55% of Americans have less than a three day supply of food and water and you don’t want to be one of them. You will not be able to go out and buy what you need during a level two or three civil unrest. It’s not safe and it is recommended to stay indoors. You could also be part of the unrest and you will need those supplies to sit out a siege.
Don’t be complacent, you are not special
Those who live in the country tend to have an “it can’t happen here” mentality toward social upheaval and see it only as an urban “thing.” Even though mostly they are, there is no strict rule they have to be. If the supply chain is broken, the rural areas will be the first to be cut off from food, fuel, medicine or other necessities. The unprepared and the unemployed from the rural area will become just as restive as their urban counterparts. And what seemed to be just a farfetched scenario, has just become a real and local threat.
Watch your health
I’ve recently had a medical issue with some kidney stones and it made me realize how much health is essential. I wasn’t good for anything for a few days and if it would have caught me in a different scenario, my chances of making it would have been really low. It’s almost certain that one day some illness will rampage across the globe and public panic is one of the immediate effects of a contagious disease.
If you live in a rural area, that doesn’t mean you are immune and sooner or later it will get to you. You should have an excellent first aid kit that includes surgical masks, disposable gloves and a good selection of updated medication. You should also have a good knowledge about first aid and an even better understanding of the medical issues that affect you (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.). If you lay low for an extended period of time, you have to make sure your health remains strong.
Protect what’s yours, especially the food.
If you grow crops or raise food animals and the unrest happens due to food shortages, farms will be targeted right after the stores have been looted. You have to be prepared to protect your resources day and night, with or without help. This is a scenario likely to happen during a level three or level four emergency and it’s already happening in Venezuela. Food is something everyone will be after and your farm is like a gold mine for the hungry masses.
Related reading: Five Guns every prepper should have.
Make a common front with your trust-worthy neighbors
I know that trust is hard to get these days, but in rural areas, people are used to be close to their neighbors and help each other out. Having a strong bond with the people from your community is vital to every type of emergency preparedness. In case a level one or two hits your area, the neighbors you trust will be the ones to check on you and help you fend off unfriendly people. They could pool resources with you and they can advise you about spotted dangers. They can help you protect your supplies and they can even take you in if the situation becomes critical.
Get information on local conditions when traveling
We are used to moving wherever we want without thinking much about it. It’s always wise to keep an eye on your destination to know in advance what awaits you. You are probably used to check a destination when you go abroad, why not do the same for local destinations? The world is moving at an incredible speed and you don’t want to be caught off guard in an unfamiliar zone. Check the local news or specific websites that can warn you about anything from political protests to social outbreaks in places you plan to go.
Situational awareness can save your life
Always be aware of your surroundings, no matter how busy you are. Sometimes, the only notice you get is the one your own sense gives you. Be alert and don’t be curious about what is happening. You don’t need to film it with your phone and you don’t want to be in the first line, you are not a journalist. Be aware of who’s nearby and what’s going around you and if you spot trouble developing, turn around and avoid it at any cost. Curiosity will put you in danger and you’re better off minding about your own business.
If you are caught in a hot zone, be prepared to act.
Don’t lose your head and think about your actions because panicking will get you hurt. If street chaos surrounds you, do your best to get away from the crowd. Keep your cool and don’t fight with crowd members. Get inside if possible to be less exposed. The police officers won’t listen to you, and for them, you’re not an innocent bystander, you are part of the crowd. Do your best not to get caught in the middle when both sides are bashing heads. This article will tell you more about how you can survive a riot so make sure you read it.
Be careful of roadblocks.
When a level three or four civil unrest hits your area, there will be many police checkpoints and roadblocks. There will be warrantless searches, harsh questioning and mass arrests. If it’s possible to avoid these barriers, especially if you are a nervous person (agitated people will be detained). You have to pay attention to what happens to the persons in front of you and if the brown stuff hits the fan, get out of there. If things are “normal” for those circumstances, stay calm and obey the given commands.
Civil unrest is something we have to be wary of these days. It’s something that can happen at any moment in these uncertain times and it’s better to know how we can deal with it. The combination of public frustration and governmental apprehension is an explosive one and somebody will light the match. It is just a matter of time.
Stay Safe and God Bless!
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