How to Prepare for Civil Unrest: How to Protect Your Home During Riots & Civil Unrest

May 10, 2022 9 min read

riots and looting

In recent years we have seen more civil unrest than ever before. Public protests and riots in the United States spanned from coast to coast over the past two years with no sign of slowing down.

During the two years of heightened civil unrest we have seen protests turn to riots, concern turn to panic buying and elections turn to investigations. Throughout all this craziness many have started to realize that preparing for times of heightened emotion is now standard practice.

That's why we, here at Valley Food Storage, have gone back through our time machine we call the internet and extensively researched the civil unrest scenarios that have plagued our nation over the past two years.

Through these processes we have discovered the early warning signs of civil unrest and created a plan of action for how to navigate and operate when civil unrest strikes.

So, if you don’t want to be caught by surprise in the next eruption of civil unrest, travel back in time with us over the last two years and see exactly what caused such emotional outpour and how you can prepare for it in the future.

Should You Prepare for Civil Unrest?

preparing for a riot or civil unrest

Before we travel too far back over the past few years let's start by answering a few questions about whether you should prepare for civil unrest.

The short answer is YES, of course you should prepare for civil unrest however your geographical area has a lot to do with how you should prepare. For example if you live around a lot of people in a city you are much more likely to experience consequences from civil unrest than if you live in a small rural town.

Because of this, the denser the population is in your town the more you should be preparing for an outburst of civil unrest. Civil unrest in cities will usually start in the form of peaceful protests but can easily get out of hand when a large number of people with heightened emotions feel like their voice isn't being heard.

However, just because you live in a small town doesn't mean you are free from civil unrest. All it takes is one radicalized person to do massive damage to a community.

A good case study on how this can happen is the killdozer incident in Granby, Colorado in 2004. In this incident a local man in the small town of Granby, Colorado felt that he had been wronged by the city and his neighbor and decided to wreak havoc in a tank like bulldozer.

All of this mayhem started from a civil zoning dispute with his neighbor that later turned violent as the Colorado native started having enough of the bureaucracy in his town.

Causes of Civil Unrest

causes of civil unrest

There are three main causes of civil unrest that we have seen over the past few decades and all of them have recurred multiple times in recent years. The three big causes of civil unrest are protests, disasters, and concern.

All of these causes of civil unrest are easily predictable however they are hard to slow down once they start. In the following three sections we will dive deeper into why these causes for civil unrest start and what the unrest can potentially turn into if miss handled by our leaders.

Civil Unrest Protests 

Although protests aren't exactly a cause of civil unrest and more of a reaction because of civil unrest we still felt like it was necessary to include protest as a cause of civil unrest.

So how do protests start from civil unrest? Well, Protests are very similar to powder kegs. Once an event sparks emotional outrage in a large group of the population, civil outrage can explode out of thin air.

Over the past few years we have seen events like the election, police violence and new policies all start massive protests that spread like wildfire across the country. If you lived near a large city you likely have experienced one of these protests first hand and if you live in a more rural area you have likely seen these protests on the news.

The biggest concern with protests stemming from civil unrest is that it’s very easy for emotions to overwhelm people and turn a peaceful protest into a riot. This is where civil unrest in the form of protests can turn dangerous and require emergency actions.

Civil Unrest From Disaster 

Disasters are another cause for civil unrest that can spark panic in a community. These disasters can come in the form of tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other disasters that disrupt communities.

protests and civil unrest

When disasters are announced many members of your community will not be as prepared as you are. This creates panic for those who are scrambling to evacuate or bunker down.

During this time stores can be easily overrun by frantic buyers who become more frantic as the disaster gets closer to their home. As the panic increases people become radical and can start looting from the stores they once frequented. Some of the worst tornadoes in US history have happened recently.

Civil Unrest from Concern - Panic

Civil unrest can also stem from mass concern from a large group of community members who feel that the future is uncertain or heading in a negative direction. This has been apparent in recent years through concerns about the election and Covid-19.

During both these events the country has been split in two about their thoughts on the events. This civil unrest has led to events such as panic buying where products like toilet paper have been missing from shelves for weeks at a time.

But the panic from civil unrest doesn't end with toilet paper; it has also caused various other products such as meat and dairy to become scarce at times. And with real potential for a food shortage coming soon, it’s time to buckle up for a bumpy ride.

Preparing for Civil Unrest

Now that we know the causes for civil unrest it’s time to start preparing for the civil unrest that can pop up out of nowhere. The first way to prepare for civil unrest is to make sure you are stocked up on enough food to last through the period of unrest.

This means making sure you have enough canned goods and emergency food to last at least a month. If you’re new to this kind of thinking, check out our guide on prepping for beginners to get started.

Depending on the situation you may even need more emergency food to last you over a month. But, stocking emergency food isn't the only way you should be preparing for civil unrest. 

Another good idea to prepare for civil unrest is to make sure you have a bug out bag at the ready. The bug out bag should contain everything you need to get your family away from the civil unrest and to a safe location where you can wait for emotions to lower before returning to your home.

Which means beyond your bug out bag you need a bug out plan in place for you and your family if things get too heated. Your bug out plan should be a detailed course of action for each of your family members to take once you deem the situation is out of hand and is no longer safe. 

To know if it is time to enact a bug out plan you need to watch the news closely and ask yourself some very important questions. These questions should include has anyone been hurt during the civil unrest, destroyed or vandalized property, or threatened violence.

protecting yourself during civil unrest

If you can answer yes to any of these questions it’s time to sound the alarms and start enacting your bug out plan.

Protecting Yourself During Civil Unrest

Protecting yourself during civil unrest varies greatly depending on where you live. The best option to protect yourself during civil unrest is to move away from the civil unrest.

Generally this means moving away from where the civil unrest is taking place. As we discussed earlier civil unrest generally occurs in more densely populated areas but can happen in lower population communities.

This means that if you are in a city and civil unrest has occurred you should start to look for somewhere to stay further away from the civil unrest. If you are in a rural community or suburb near civil unrest you don’t need to leave as soon as those living inside the city itself.

We recommend that people living outside of a densely populated area bunker down and carefully watch the news about the civil unrest and avoid the areas it is taking place in. Make sure you’re prepared with things like long term water storage and know how to boil water without electricity.

Once you start to notice that the civil unrest is escalating or moving outward toward your community is when we recommend evacuating from smaller communities until the unrest calms down. 

Once you deem it’s time to leave your home and relocate for the time being there are some common practices that you should follow to protect yourself. The first common practice we recommend is to lay low while traveling or while relocated.

This is because civil unrest usually stems from polarizing topics. Which means that even if you have left the area of civil unrest you are still at risk of running into a radicalized citizen who relates to the unrest and is looking for an opportunity to make his voice heard. 

Another common practice we recommend to protect yourself from civil unrest is to remain calm. If you start to panic with the rest of the community you will find yourself straying away from your bug out plan and making rash decisions that can put you or your family in harm's way.

Even if you do relate to the causes of civil unrest that doesn’t mean you need to partake in the events that can quickly turn dangerous. 

Finally, the last common practice that you should follow during civil unrest is patience.

You never know how long a community will be fired up about a certain event so it’s a good idea to not head back into a dangerous environment early. Carry some easy to eat food with you like freeze dried fruits and vegetables that don’t even need to be rehydrated to eat.

A survival food bucket is great for at home, but you’ll need something light on the road. Even if you or your family is starting to grow tired of your new environment, stay patient and don’t return home until you are certain the civil unrest has resided.

Safest Place to Be During Civil Unrest

safest place to be during civil unrest

We have touched on this point a little earlier in this article but it is hands down the most important aspect of preparing for civil unrest. As we have already mentioned, the safest place to be during civil unrest is away from the civil unrest itself.

Which means moving away from densely populated areas where large groups of people can easily become radicalized during times of civil unrest. But where are the safest places to go away from civil unrest?

Well, the first place we recommend going once civil unrest starts is a family member or friend’s home that is far away from where the unrest is taking place and has a low population density.

We recommend first trying to go to a friend or family because this will remove some of the stress in potentially forgetting some supplies in your bug out bag. Staying at a friend or family member's home will also give you an extra source of comfort during uneasy times.

The next safest place to be during civil unrest is a hotel, or cabin in a low population density area. The reason this is the same as why you would try to go to a family member or friend's home in a similar area, there are less people that will be upset or radicalized.

The only difference in moving to one of these locations vs someone you know is that you lose strength in numbers. Which means you have to completely rely on yourself to have everything you need while waiting out the civil unrest. 

Civil Unrest Survival Checklist

Now that you are familiar with the causes, signs, and preparing for civil unrest its time to go through one last checklist to make sure that you have every base covered for when civil unrest rises.

civil unrest checklist and bug out bag

These checklist items are not an end all be all list that should be followed by law but suggestions that you should take into consideration.

However if you do simply follow each action item on this checklist than you will be more prepared than 90% of your fellow Americans when civil unrest arises

  • Bugout bag fully stocked and in an easily accessible location
  • Bugout location picked and location has been shared with your family
  • Food stock to last at least one month
  • Action plan for you family if civil unrest where to erupt
  • Full tank of gas to get you from your city to your bugout location
  • A plan to take care of or take any pets while in your bugout location
  • Accesses to current news updates while bugging out