Survival Skills Blog & Off The Grid Guides

Avoiding Holiday Violence:


In my last newsletter, I showed you just how violent Black Friday can be.  In this issue I wanted to show you a few tricks to help you get out safely, should you be caught up in the middle of a mob or riot.

I wanted to specifically focus on black Friday for this article as it is something that is a national event and not just localized to a single city.  The chart above shows an estimate of the amount of money spent and the amount of people out on black Friday.

This many people focused into such small environments (the stores) clamoring for so many items, creates a powder keg that is just waiting for ignition (see my previous newsletter for examples if you need a refresher on what black Friday can cause).

It is in my opinion that the less expendable cash a person has, the more desperate they become to find a deal and the more easily prone they become to violence… and lets face it, money is hard to come by these days.  Check out the chart below that shows just how many people to expect on the retail battlefield this year and just how much they are willing to spend.

Check out Avoiding Holiday Violence: at

With that being said, a riot can break out at any time and these tips can be used in any of those situations, not just Black Friday.

I will be watching the news safely at home come Friday, but should you decide to venture out into the fray, please consider these tips below:

Stay calm and keep your emotions in check. Riots happen when intense emotions boil to the surface and explode into violence. You stand a much better chance of surviving a riot by 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.

Do not fall victim to the mob mentality.  Below are a few tips that will help guide you safely out of a mob or riot situation.

Avoid confrontation. Keep your head down, while at the same time looking for a safe exit. Do not involve yourself in the violence, even if you are struck or pushed, just keep moving.

Walk. If you run or move erratically, you might attract unwanted attention.

Don’t Stop Moving.   If you stop you run the risk of getting crushed by the sheer force of a mob of people moving in one direction

Get inside and stay there. Typically riots happen in the streets. If you can get inside you are in a much better position to wait it out.

Keep your doors and windows locked. Do not stand in front of the windows gawking. Move to interior rooms, this will reduce the danger of being hit by stones, bullets, or other items. Try to find at least two possible exits in case you need to evacuate the building in a hurry.

If you’re caught up in a car, stay calm.  If your vehicle does become a target, quickly and calmly leave it behind, your Toyota is not worth dying for. If people 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. This is a last resort; never put someone else’s life in danger unless they are putting yours there first.

Driving towards police lines can be interpreted by the police as use of a deadly weapon and in the heat of the moment they may react with deadly force.

Stay on the sidelines and back away slowly. If you’re caught up in a riot, don’t take sides. Be as inconspicuous as possible, and slowly and carefully move to the outside of the mob. Stay close to outskirts of the mob but try to avoid bottlenecks such as tunnels, pillars, high fences and long sections of walls.

The more time you spend in the middle 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.

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. 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 easily avoided. You will receive much less damage than if you were flat out on your back or stomach. If others trip on you they will help create a larger “pile” that other rioters will avoid.

Panicked crowds move fast and release an unbelievable amount of energy; once a crowd gets moving it is very hard to stop, and the flow of people could literally sweep you off your feet.

It is interesting to note that the force of only 6 to 7 average sized individuals pushing in the same direction can generate up to 1000 lbs. of force. This is more than enough to bend steel railings and topple brick walls.

During a stampede, people can even die while standing up, simply from the pressure applied to their bodies. This massive constricting pressure will cause them to black out and eventually suffocate.

When pressure is applied to your side, you may have a better chance at survival, just because your rib cage is protecting the brunt of the force, but you still have the ability to breathe.

If you plan on being in a situation where a crowd will form, the most important thing you can do is to make yourself familiar with the surroundings and make mental notes of any possible alternate exits. No matter where you are, make sure you always know how to get out.

Make yourself aware of the ground you are standing on, and know that trying to navigate in a crowd of moving people when the ground is uneven or wet can be extremely hazardous, causing you to fall and quickly become trampled.

Make yourself completely aware of the general atmosphere of the event, as panic can often be anticipated. When in danger, those extra few seconds can make all the difference, giving you the possibility of taking advantage of your escape route. Always stay closer to the escape route.

Again; if you find yourself in the middle of a moving crowd do not fight against it, and do not stand still or sit down, because you could easily get crushed.

Instead, move in the same direction of the crowd, making sure to take advantage of any space that opens up between people to move perpendicular to the crowd where the flow is weaker.

Keep your hands up by your chest, like a boxer – it gives you movement and acts as a buffer to protect your chest.

The worst scenario is to be pushed by the crowd against a fixed object. Do whatever you can to keep away from walls, fences or barricades, as the crowd pressure can build up rapidly and cause you to suffocate or worse.

The crowd will move much like a wave in that after you’re pushed forward, just like an ocean wave there will be a slight lull. In that lull is your chance to move. You need to take a diagonal path between pockets of people.

There will almost always be a space between people that you can slip into. This will take time as you may only be able to move a few steps after each surge but eventually you will make it to a safe zone outside of the crowd.

If you choose to stay in and avoid the hassle ofBlack Friday, I send a holiday toast your way.  And for my friends, family, and fellow survivalists that choose to head out fro a chance to grab that cheap 60″ Television, or the newly revived Furby, my thoughts are with you, happy hunting and I wish you a safe return

‘Above Average’ Joe



One Comment

  • Jean says:

    A few words of suggestion for any people who are temporary workers at a retail store for the holiday from a 7 year veteran of Black Friday crowds at a mega-mart. Once you get through the door (the most dangerous part of the journey as people will attempt to sneak in behind you or push past to get in if your store isn’t a 24/7 store) take a quick walk around as the entire layout of the aisles will have ‘changed overnight’ if you left before setup the night before. The back hallways and warehouses are useful for more than just storing extra product. Use them as much as possible during Black Friday. If you have a few minutes before or after work tomorrow give yourself a refresher walk-through of the back and update your memory of where the entrances onto the sales floor are. That area you thought was blocked off during your orientation might have just been stacked with special sales freight and isn’t blocked now, giving you a clear shot to the place you wish to come out at, and the reverse is also true, the clear path to that same area last week is now stuffed with carts of extra TV’s. When you are opening a stand-alone display, start at one side and move calmly around the display, as this forces the people to follow you to get the item. The last side can usually be pulled off as you step back, making sure no one has slipped around behind you to reach past your body for the item. I discovered the cardboard shipping box I was pulling off made a great body shield, people with sense were moving out of my way as the box was taking up most of the aisle. Don’t take this for granted, I still got knocked off balance a couple of times by people too stubborn to see they wouldn’t clear the box. Moving with the tidal flow is like swimming in a rip current, moving at an angle will usually get you out. For those stuck with monitoring a queue line, a firm, yet polite tone will allow you to control most of the crowd. There’s always the couple of people who think they have more rights than the rest. I have only had one fistfight over a Furby and that was when they first came out. We handed out tickets, you had to collect the persons ticket before they got their critter. Of course, someone got the one another person wanted, pow, out the area to another register. Keep your wits and watch yourself.

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