Survival Skills

6 Ways to Stay Safe in Potentially Threatening Crowds



6 Ways to Stay Safe in Potentially Threatening Crowds

When a Crowded Street Becomes a Danger Zone, Follow These 6 Tips to Stay Safe

The world as we know it today is fast-paced. Everywhere we go, chances are, there’s going to be a crowd.

Unfortunately, in recent years, crowds can feel quite unsettling and can often be a scary experience for some. We live in a much different time than the generations before us — where our feelings of safety are being taken away a little more each day.

Every time I watch the news, something horrible has happened. Angry protests turn into rioting…sometimes in the matter of minutes. In 2015, Ferguson, Missouri, for example, people lost their businesses due to angry protesters that took matters into their own hands. Looting ensued and fires raged throughout local businesses — businesses that some spent their entire savings to create. Some of the buildings couldn’t be saved and those business owners lost everything.

ferguson riot

A local business in Ferguson, Missouri destroyed by fire from violent protesters in 2015.

Other unfortunate (and often fatal) events that happen in crowded places reign in this country and other countries around world every day. Always be on alert and take precautions but do NOT let fear keep you from your daily life.

There are ways to stay safe in crowds if the situation has become threatening, as in a riot or other similar situation. Here are 6 steps that could save your life in a dangerous crowd.


1. Remain Calm.

stay calm in a crowd

Aggressive crowds can often bring intense emotions from others around you, but if you want to survive any potential threat you'd be better off keeping your own emotions in check. Your adrenaline and survival instincts will kick in, but strive to think rationally and pursue safety methodically.

  • Avoid confrontation by keeping your head down.
  • Walk at all times. If you run or move too quickly, you might attract unwanted attention.


2. Keep Your Loved Ones Close

keep your loved ones close in a crowd

If you're not alone, then the first thing you should do is grip the hands or lock elbows with all of the people who are with you. If you're with a child, hold him in your arms so he doesn't get trampled. Sticking together with your loved ones should be your first priority. Your second should be finding a way out. Reassure the people you're with that you have strength in numbers and that you'll be fine if you stick together.


3. Do NOT Get Involved in a Riot Type Situation.


If you're caught in a riot, the last thing you want to do is try to take sides, help out, or stand out. In fact, you should stand out as little as possible as you move to the outside of the mob and away from the action. To do this, stay close to the walls and other barriers, though avoid bottlenecks, or any areas where a lot of people are squeezing through a small space. Your goal is to get out safely!


4. Drive Appropriately if You're in a Vehicle.

driving on a crowded street

Unless your car is the focus for an angry mob in a riot type situation, you should stay in the car and continue driving as calmly as possible. Try to keep to the streets that are clear of riots, and avoid the main roads that are more likely to be occupied. Keep moving forward and don't stop to assess the situation. If someone tries to block your car, honk your horn and keep driving until he gets out of the way (of course, this doesn't mean you should hit the person.) Drive at moderate speed so they have time to back off and realize that you mean business.

  • Remember that you're in a position of power when you're driving. Don't let a few angry people stop you from driving your car and keep going unless you absolutely can't.
  • Many activists are afraid of cars because there have been cases of any drivers running down the protesters on the roads. Remember to be firm, but not aggressive, to avoid giving the wrong impression.


5. Move Away from the Riot and Other Dangerous Situations as Calmly as Possible.

walking through a crowd

If you're on foot, you should move away by going with the flow of foot traffic, not against it. If you go against the traffic, you're much more likely to stand out, to get stampeded, or just to get pushed or blocked. If you feel that you may fall down in the big crowd and get trampled, use your elbows to push down on the crowd so that it carries you. Though you may want to run for your life, you should move calmly and relatively slowly.

  • Continue to move with the crowd until you can escape into a doorway, an alley, a side street, or a safe building.
  • If you're in the middle of a crowd, it's especially important to try to move in the direction of the crowd until you make your way to the outside of the crowd.


6. Move to a Safe Enclosed Area.

seek shelter from a violent crowd

Riots (and similar situations) most commonly happen outside on the streets, not inside buildings. Just by moving inside a sturdy and controlled building, you can protect yourself from the brunt of a riot. Any building with a basement, or even a sub-basement, can help you hide from a mob. Being in any safe building at all is safer than being out on the streets. Look for homes that can serve as “safe houses” in advance if you're really concerned about finding a safe space in the event of a riot. If you can, talk to the owners first.

  • Lock the doors and windows and stay away from them. Though you may be tempted to watch the riot from the windows, this will increase your chances of getting hurt.
  • Move to rooms that do not lead directly outside, to avoid getting hit by stones, bullets or other missiles.
  • Look for at least two exits in the building in case you need to leave in a rush.
  • Just look out for fire. If the angry mob turns toward the building, it can be a target.

For more safety tips on potentially dangerous crowds and riots, check out these other articles:

10 Tips to Help You Escape a Riot

Survival Scenario: Panicked Mob

7 Tips for Surviving a Mob of Looters




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