9 Steps to Take to Prepare for a Riot

Okay, I can see the look on some of your faces.  There’s no way to predict a riot, so how can you prepare?  Well, truth be told, you can’t predict a tornado, a stock market collapse, or a wildfire.  So really while preparing for a riot FEELS different, it’s really no different from preparing for the rest.

Been there.  Done that.  Brought the t-shirt  9 Steps to Take to Prepare for a Riot

There are some topics on which I know less.  I will readily admit that.  For topics like that I really do a lot of research before presenting information and ideas, but when it comes to preparing for a riot, I’ve already been there.   As my mother-in-law used to say, “I’ve been there.  Done that.  Bought the t-shirt.”

Ferguson, Missouri – the Backstory

In 2014 my family lived in a little-known (at that point) town of Ferguson, Missouri.  Ferguson Farmer’s Market is really what the town was known for prior to August 9th.  We were a small racially diverse community.  From the time we purchased a house there in 2001, the demographic was almost 50% Caucasian and 50% African American.   By 2010, the demographic had swung to approximately 60% African American and 40% Caucasian.

In the area of Ferguson in which I lived, I didn’t feel the racial tensions so much.  Sure, sometimes I was the only white person in a small store, but it didn’t bother me.  I got along well with just about everyone I came in contact with, so race wasn’t an issue for me.  Apparently though, in other areas of the city that were more predominantly black, racial tensions were high, and when it did boil over, it did so in a big and blindsiding way!

9 Steps to Take to Prepare for a Riot
Photo Credit: Mint Press

The Riots Begin

We had been out of town the weekend of August 7-9th.  We got home late Sunday afternoon.  In typical “me” fashion, I unpacked and got the laundry sorted and ready to go.

I sat down at my computer to work on the business venture to which I was applying myself to at that time when I got a text from a dear friend of mine.  The 10 o’clock news was playing (yea, we didn’t have a TV, so I wasn’t watching it), and she saw a news story on a riot that was taking place in Ferguson, Missouri.  She wanted to make sure that I was okay.

I admit I was a bit stunned and not sure why she was asking me.  She let me know moments later that there was a riot taking place very close to me.  That one call or event changed the course of the rest of my life, literally.

And Go On and On and On

9 Steps to Take to Prepare for a Riot
Photo Credit: Daily Mail Online

Contrary to popular belief, the Ferguson Riots were not a short event.  The course of the entire series of riots really lasted for more than a year.  Within the first two months of the almost nightly riots, we had protestors in our front yard, police helicopter lights pointed into our yard, and a shooting across the corner from our house during the day.   Many businesses less than a half-mile from our house had been burned down.  It was chaos and crazy.  We had five children ages 11 and under and after four months of the riots, we moved from Ferguson, Missouri to Central Illinois.

So living through a series of riots that lasted more than four months (for us) gave me a pretty good handle on how to deal with a riot.

Preparing for a Riot

9 Steps to Take to Prepare for a Riot1.) Every Day Carry

No matter where you are, there are certain things that you should keep with you at all times.  Most people in the prepper community call these “Every Day Carry” or EDC for short.  There is a litany of items that are both necessary and helpful to have on your person or within arms reach.  If you’re not familiar with the term, I have a whole article on it here.

2.) The Prepared Vehicle

No matter whether you are home or you are out, you need a prepared vehicle.  Make sure you keep it in a constant state of readiness, and if anyone knows how hard that it, I do.  I have five kids and they are ALWAYS hungry or thirsty (so our snacks and water disappear) or getting hurt (which depletes my first-aid supplies) or the mosquitoes are biting (cue the homemade bug spray) or the sun is HOT (so we pull out the sunscreen).  Yes, my vehicle seems to get depleted all the time.

Set a reminder on your phone to restock your van monthly.  Keep a checklist on your phone, so you know which things you should be checking to see if they need to be replenished.

3.) Bug Out Bag

Keep your eyes out for an entire article on Bug Out Bags here in the short-term.  But until I publish it, let me give you the basics.

Every member of your family should have a backpack designated ONLY as a Bug Out Bag.  We keep ours in our garage (since we don’t keep food in ours – I’ll fill you in on how we solve this problem later in the article).  We swap the contents 9 Steps to Take to Prepare for a Riotout twice a year with season/weather appropriate clothing.  Besides two changes of clothing, each person has a stocked toiletry bag, a book, a small game (usually a card game or small travel version of a game), and a poncho.  The larger ones of us have a headlamp, the smaller ones have glowstick jewelry.  Between all of us, we also carry a pellet stove and a cooking kit.

4.) Food and Water

We don’t carry food in our Bug Out Bags as I mentioned above, but what I do instead is I keep a shorter tote with 72 hours worth of food for our family.  This is kept inside our basement, but if we need to ever leave quickly, it is easily grabbed.  We also keep five to eight packages of Costco bottled water.  We can easily grab three of these to put in our car if we have to leave quickly.

5.) Twitter  9 Steps to Take to Prepare for a Riot

Uhuh, I can see each of you with your mouths gaping open right now.  TWITTER?!?  What in the world does Twitter have to do with being prepared for a riot?  Twitter was how I knew which way it was safe to leave town during the riots.

We lived between two different locations that nightly rioting was going on.  There was the Michael Brown memorial east of us and the Police Station west of us.  Either location could see a riot on a nightly basis.  I would get onto Twitter and search #Ferguson to see where the action was going on.  Twitter gave me up to the second information.  Not even the police scanner that I also had on my phone could do that as quickly.

I couldn’t just live in my house for four months.  I was still running a business during that time too, I had places that I had to be on numerous evenings.  This let me know which way was safe to leave town when I had to go out.

9 Steps to Take to Prepare for a Riot6.) Facebook

Yep, yet another social media outlet, but not for the same reason as the first.  On Facebook groups were set up to help the protestors organize.  This was an amazing way to find out what was going to happen IN ADVANCE of it actually happening.  Yes, it’s true that a group might not let you in, but if you can find your way into one, you can stay quiet and just read over the information that they give out so you know what you expect.

7.) Protection

Whether your protection takes the form of Mace or a gun or a knife, you NEED a way to protect yourself and your family.  This article goes into detail about different ways to protect yourself and your family.  Know what the laws are in your area.  They can even vary within each state, so make sure you check.

But What If You Can’t Get Out?  9 Steps to Take to Prepare for a Riot

What if a riot comes to you and you can’t get out?

8.) You can start by fortifying your home now.

No, I don’t mean making it into a fortress that no one can penetrate.  Not only would that not be cost effective, but it would be impractical to live in.  There are simple things that you can do now though to secure your home.

9.) Hiding Your Family

Even with securing your home better, there still is a chance that a mob can get inside your home, so let’s talk about what we can do.  Before you ever get to that point, you need to look through your house for a good hiding spot for your family.  We lived in a house with a crawlspace on the outside of the attic which lead to the garage.  We lived in another house that had a root cellar which wasn’t evident from inside or the front of the house.  In the house that we live in now, there is a crawlspace with access from a bathroom.  Find the place that you can hide NOW.

What if you don’t have a place to hide?  If you know NOW, you can create a space!  Do you have a walk-in closet that can have a false wall put in?  Is there a corner of your basement that you can build a ‘safe room’ into?  Look into different possibilities of places that you can create for your family can hide now before you need it.

What About You?

Have you ever had to live through this perilous situation?  Whether or not you have, do you have other suggestions that could help others prepare for and survive a riot?  I’d love to hear.  Leave a comment below and let us know!

Together lets Love, Learn, Practice, Overcome

There are links in this post.  Some of the links may be affiliate links.  Some of the links may not be.  My promise to you is that I will only recommend the most economical version of the best quality of items to serve you. These are the items that I have bought for my own family.  You can feel free to use my affiliate links, of which I will get a small amount in compensation, or you can choose to search out your products on your own.

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  • GreenDoor

    I cannot even begin to imagine how scary that was for you! I just thank you for continuing to share your story because I hear so many people in my urban area saying, “I’m just going to move out of the city.” But your story is proof that a riot situation can happen even in small, unknown towns.

  • Ted

    Just happened upon your site by way or Prepperwebsite. This piece is informative but have one question. Why move to central Illinois? I’ve lived here 62 years and thirty month when the wife retires we are out or here. The political climate just went left with the primers. The writing on the wall says Illinois residence will be taxed into poverty and be disarmed for the privilege of living in poverty. So the likely the riots you left in Missouri will soon follow here in Illinois.

    • admin

      Hey, Ted! Thanks for the comment. There really are three reasons we moved to Central Illinois. The first, that’s where my husband found a job. Second, we had already been driving more than three hours once a month to attend a church here that we really liked. We wanted to be a part of that church on a more permanent basis. Are there churches all over? Absolutely, but not like this one. The last reason we moved here is that we put bids on four different houses in a more rural part of Missouri prior to moving here, and every single deal fell through! While I absolutely hate the political climate here, it’s where I believe God wants us – at least for now.

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