Staying Safe In Uncertain Times

David Trammel's picture

Given the recent protests, I thought I'd start a post discussing ways you can stay safe in the various situations that you might get into. Let's begin with just a bit of general observations as we start.


Places you might have concerns at:

Naturally, with the riots on the television and online, ending up at a protest either by choice or by accident is going to the top place of concern for your own safety. While there are different actions and preparations you would take depending on why you are there, you also have some common things for both situations.

Secondly as I see it, would be your safety when traveling. There have been several videos of people injured while simply go to the store or to businesses. Opportunists are taking advantage of the situations and chaos to commit crimes. I feel that looting situations hold different dangers than protests. The people involved and the response of the police will be different.

Third would be your home or work situation. In one instance, merely sitting on your porch has subjected people to attack by law enforcement. Looters are growing bolder and more organized.


ADDED: Remember, please keep comments apolitical. Discuss actions that can keep you safe, not the pros or cons of either side in the crisis.

Blueberry's picture

The big problem with shooting some asset of humanity is the f@#king paper work. Florida has a stand your ground law the paper work is still a pain!!!

lathechuck's picture

Mob violence is usually concentrated in a relatively small area, so pay attention to the reported danger zones, and arrange your affairs so you have alternatives to being where the trouble is. More specifically, if you're driving, listen to a local radio station, rather than wrapping yourself in a soothing cocoon of satellite radio or recorded music. Practice taking alternate routes, so that getting from point A to point B doesn't require going through a danger zone. Maintain supplies of essential goods, so that you can "bug in", away from the danger zone, and wait for calm to return. If you have the choice, choose a place to live that is not likely to attract danger. Urban life may be fun at times, but not when the store below your apartment is being looted.

mountainmoma's picture

not when at any random moment a freeway will be mobbed and blocked -- they made a mistake, a few years ago, when they let this slide. A protest can walk down a road as you have too many people to fit on sidewalks ( I have been in protests) but people, while maybe incomvenienced are not stuck, they can drive on a parallel street, not turn down the street with the march, turn off the street that has the march at the corner, etc...

A freeway has limited access points, and has high speed travel, it is not a protest venue ! But, it is like the looting, the people swarmng the freeways are not protesting, they are rioting and are a mob. The problem is, that is real hard to anticipate. I was appalled and shocked at a scene I saw on twitter, it was linked, of a freeway, just a random freeway in the afternoon in a non-major metro area about an hour from here. Cars blocked, a rioter just bashing on the drivers side window while the woman inside at teh drivers seat is screaming, just screaming. The fear. How was she to avoid this ? No warning. Just doing her normal drive. Attacked. Attacker/mob participant ran off before breaking all the way thru.

Yes, avoid crowds, if you can. Yes, of course. But, how does one prepare to potentially get caught unawares like that ? carry I guess, in case they do break into the car, not common in this state, well not previously ! I would like to see more action in keeping such things off of freeways, I dunno what, maybe those helicopter scoops we use to fight fires int hsi area, could just, after a warning, dump the water on them. I think they would move first, hearing the bull horn announcement and seeing that helicopter hovering there with the scoop -- tear gas would get to the innocent people in teh cars and delivery trucks. Maybe there are better ideas. But, if authorities do not do something, the people in the cars will start defending themselves and people are going to get hurt or killed.

David Trammel's picture

I have on occasion carried concealed when going out. Missouri passed a "no need for a license" change a few years back, so you can legally here. I don't normally though, mostly because I tend to not put myself into a dangerous area or situation.

In the current situations, I'd worry that carrying a hand gun would put you into a more dangerous situation than having it would prevent. I've not seen any wide spread evidence at the moment that protesters or looters are attacking people on the street. Not that it hasn't happened. I have seen scenes of innocent bystanders getting hit by police though.

I would be more worried if I were caught in a riot and ended up interacting with the police, and having a gun on me. I don't see anyway that would work out well. While its one thing to tell an officer "I have a gun on me", in the course of a traffic stop, and I've read up on the better ways to do that safely, for you and the officer, being in a riot, even if you had no intention of being there, and carrying a gun sets yourself up for a ride in the back of a police car.

I think though, carrying pepper spray for defense wouldn't be unwise. You can always drop it on the street if you are about interact with the police. Same thing with one of those heavy metal flashlights.

Mace I can handle but those rubber bullets look nasty. I wonder if a carrying backpack with a piece of thick plywood inside as a makeshift shield might not be useful? Nobody would notice it and you could use the backpack as a shield for your face, or to push people away from behind of. I have a small get home bag in the car, might add something like that, to it for now.

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre, who wrote about the Argentina collapse had some good practical advice about what to do if caught in a riot/protest. I'll see about reposting that, and what else he might be saying on his website about the current situation.

mountainmoma's picture

I was talking about what too have in a car in case you are overwhelmed by a mob. Not saying you should, or if you did should pull it out even then, you realy shouldn't, last ditch thing to do, crowd is larger than the magazine, so you know it is there and hope it never comes to that. Very non-ideal. Beats being for sure maimed or dying with no recourse, if it came to being actually attacked though, on the off chance hearing the gunshots would make the rest scatter. It very well might not. But, it is more that I think people will start to do this, be armed, not that I think it will solve your problems of being caught in a mob.

It is easier to get out of a situation as a pedestrian than when in a car and blocked, although if someone is bashing in your windows you are then in justifiable fear of your life and can hit the gas, except that it doesnt take that many people to just pick up and flip your car, so escalation is not what you want to do. Very scary situation to be in, just not where you want to be. People need to be protected realy, because there are no good answers to this situation. Try and stay away, if you know about it, and police/national guard need to step in much quicker to protect citizens from this mass violence.

I am not worried about the police in any case, it is generally pretty easy to avoid that interaction. Leave, turn around and walk or run the other way if you see a crowd, do not be in it. Unless it is night time, and possibly even then, the heavy flashlight would be seen as preparing for violence, the legal carry would not, if that is legal in your area, in other words, people who carry, carry every day, and the police know and expect it. No -one just carries around a 4 D cell flashlight downtown. People do normally carry pepper spray too, I carry it everyday on a caribeener hanging off the outside of my purse where I can get to it. People do not normally walk around carrying wasp spray, do not do that, like other out of place items ( frozen single use full water bottles, baseball bats, etc...) that could be weapons, it will be seen as preparing to use it, and it is not rated for use on humans ( unlike pepper spray) so then you realy have an issue.

I would not be worried about being hit with beanbag shot or rubber bullets, as you would need to be in the crowd and not dispersing. Disperse. Now, tear gas drifts, and that may catch up with you. People right now are stupid, they think they are only observers, with their phones out filming, and that the phone is some kind of magic shield that shows they are not of the mob.... all they had to do was disperse to a safer distance

David Trammel's picture

I don't carry a 4 cell flashlight, but one of the shorter 2 cell. They are quite appropriate to carry in a "get home" bag.

If others are not familiar with that term, much like the more well known "bug out" bag, a get home bag is a small backpack kept in your car, for situations where you have to leave your car and walk home. Typically paired up with comfortable walking shoes, it carries some basic things that help you walk 5-10 miles in an emergency. A map, some snacks, food and water. Extra clothes like socks and a hoodie for warmth. Maybe some basic medical supplies and a few tools. In such a carry, a study flashlight with some extra batteries wouldn't be out of place. That it makes an effective defensive weapon helps.

I also carry a section of 1 1/2" pipe, about 3 feet long in my car, along with a 4 way lug wrench and small hydraulic jack. The pipe is big enough to slip over the lug wrench and provide leverage to loosen stuck lug nuts. It also is an effective deterrent for someone who threatens me.

My thought is "do you have an otherwise reasonable explanation for carrying that object".

I was once pulled over by a police officer in Los Angeles. He claimed my license plate didn't match the car. They were out of state plates. He had me sit on the curb. He asked to look through my car. It was a work van. I gave him permission. He asked if there was anything in there he should be aware of, and I said yes, there's a hand ax behind the driver's seat. That raised an eyebrow.

When asked, I said, I'm from Missouri where it snows heavily. If I were to skid off the road and end up in a ditch, I would use the ax to cut down branches to put under my tires for traction. Ohh and the ax is in a milk crate with road flares, jumper cables, tire iron and jack, fire extinguisher and flashlight.

It made sense then for him and after a few minutes I was allowed to go on my way.

I'm not sure what his reaction to me having a firearm, even placed away from me, and locked in a box, would have been. Given it was California, probably not good.

David Trammel's picture

Came across this on Youtube of the chaos in Los Angeles. First 10 minutes is tame, then it gets crazy. Worth looking at to see the dynamics of the current situations.

mountainmoma's picture

SO amny people, including the people in the car in that clip, are hindering the catching of the people still looting -- when so many people are sight seeing the looting ! Yeah, we have a surreal situation alright. That situation is impossible for the police, if you dont do anything or if you do something but then the looky-loos are caught up too --

If we are wanting to keep safe -- stay out of those areas !

David Trammel's picture

Yes, I was struck by the number of people just casually walking around watching the looting.

It does show that in some situations, daytime and not large organized crowds of protesters, if you accidentally ended up in that situation, you could probably just walk out of it. Nighttime and in a full scale riot, not as easy a time.

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

...and we are only at the six-month mark.

This year sure is giving us big reminders of why Green Wizardry is important to all of us here.

Friday my wife and I got stuck on the highway for forty minutes or so due to protesters. At first we thought there was just a wreck up ahead. Then I realized what it actually was. At that point nothing had turned violent in the area. The protest was still peaceful. And cutting off highway traffic is quite an effective action... though I was somewhat shocked to see some kids around the 6-8 year old age with their parents their, if only for their safety.

There are a ton of different dynamics going on. I'm also starting to wonder about the violent aspects, in some cases, being caused by "counter-protesters". There is certainly a lot going on.

As far as staying safe is concerned, you could also pretend to be a part of the protest until you can get out of the area if necessary. We've talked about blending in here before.

Had to check on an old friend last night, whose nephews live in a different city and he has no relatives here. He was fine, just had left his cell phone in a different room and hadn't answered it. Anyway, we were out past curfew to check on him, and coming home, man I wish they would make "car curfews" a regular thing, because it would have been grand to be able to be out on the streets on a bike or by foot or skateboard when there are so few cars around. It's kind of magical seeing the city that way.

mountainmoma's picture

As far as the other report of the freeway stoppages being "effective" How is that ? Lucky you were only inconveninced. We have had ambulences caught up in such in my area, people suffer and die due to this. And, you were lucky, only 40 minutes and no one attacked your car. You werent actually bothered by it -- you werent on the way to the hospital with your wife in labor -- you werent on the way to pick up your 6 year old from school, were they would be left standing on the sidewalk alone -- you werent on the way to your elderly parents house were you need to make your dad breakfast, give him his meds and help him to the bathroom -- I could go one
And, they are Effective, effective for what ? getting on TV ?

There are opportunists doing alot of looting -- but saying there are counter portesters isnt accurate overall, there may be a few. There are just alot of people who have different ideas of what they want to do. Many, most, say they are non-violent, ( but do know that impeding people is violent, forcefully stopping someone from leaving is what it is, they are not "incidentally" in the way, as older marches, they will purposefully jump in front or to block, the purpose is not to protest and march it is clearly to forcefully keep people imprisoned in that spot in their cars ) others absolutely want to cause disruption and destruction, some instigate others to that path who might not have done it otherwise, that is how mobs work.

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

Hi Mountain Momma,

You brought up some great parts. Yes, we were only inconvenienced, and I wasn't thinking of people in the kinds of situations you mentioned. By effective I suppose I did mean that they were effective in getting some media coverage, effective in getting people to stop which seems to be an "effective" way to get attention at least. And perhaps attention and listening is what is needed when the number of crisis in this country continually eclipses one issue when another one arises.

I agree that mob mentality can arise due to "one bad apple" in a bunch instigating chaos. Just as "one bad apple" among our police force can, to complete the phrase "ruin the whole bunch".

There does seem to be a clear difference between the strategies of protest used now and those used in the past. I don't have nay answers, myself. And I don't really know who all is behind any of these disruptions. There are various claims in the media. It could be people are getting hyped up on adrenaline and anger and turn to violence and looting, My ham group, who have been working to monitor the situation, have heard reports that some of the protesters are using radios and appear to be receiving instructions from somewhere else. Where and who that someone else is, is not known. Is it "counter-protests" done by white supremacists? Or is it those who are so called "Antifa" (which isn't an organization at all but an umbrella term for a number of different groups and people who share a similar ideology). We don't know yet, but it does appear there is more going on than is known or meets the eye.

I guess those are my own thoughts on it for now... always subject to change.

mountainmoma's picture

" False imprisonment is an act punishable under criminal law as well as under tort law. Under tort law, it is classified as an intentional tort. A a person commits false imprisonment when he commits an act of restraint on another person which confines that person in a bounded area.
Prima Facie Case

The defendant willfully acts . . .
. . . intending to confine the plaintiff without the plaintiff's consent and without authority of law
the defendant's act causes the plaintiff's confinement
the plaintiff is aware of his/her own confinement

Bounded Area

An act of restraint can be a physical barrier (such as a locked door), the use of physical force to restrain, a failure to release, or an invalid use of legal authority. An area is only bounded if freedom of movement is limited in all directions. If there is a reasonable means of escape from the area, the area is not bounded. However, if the means of escaping will result in the risk of physical harm to the detainee, then the area is bounded. "

If the point is to keep people from leaving, then it is not a protest, it is illegal. Imprisoning others, even if for "only" 40 minutes is wrong and illegal, and very different from incidentally having a street full of people ( as in a March that overflows the sidewalk onto the street due to shear numbers of people, but many parallel and side exits exist) Even surface streets should not be intentionally blocked, as in if that is the purpose, that is also immoral and illegal.

David Trammel's picture

I understand the passions but the intent of this thread isn't to discuss the right or wrongness of these protests, but to discuss ways to keep yourself safe. Please lighten up a bit on the politics everyone. Lets keep it friendly here.


mountainmoma's picture

But I was responding to the thought that stopping cars was no big deal, and it is, but I am stressed, being close to area I am close to --- not sure what politics I invoked though, I am taking no-ones nor any parties position -- I am actually worried as to where this could go if more of it happens. Maybe I was not clear, given these stressful times, I am not speaking of the right or wrong of any protests, but that protests move away from or are co-opted from being protests and into being violent, obvious and less obvious violence,

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

Indeed times are stressful, and I know I can get wound up. I tend to look at all sides of things, and don't hold much loyalty to any particular political viewpoint. None the less I will try to "stay calm and carry on" and not get riled up -and try not to rile anyone else up either. I know I need to put in a bit more time in meditation now. Spend some time being silent so I can listen. All the best to everyone here.

David Trammel's picture

So I've attended two protests so far, one in downtown St Louis which had around 3000 people, and a smaller on in my town in the County, which had about 200. Both were well organized and well behaved. The police in both cases were present but peaceful, without the riot shields, body armor and helmets you see in so many pictures.

I carried a small backpack with a variety of items; from water and sunscreen, to granola bars and some minor first aid supplies, to a better camera (my cell phone sucks at pictures) as well as a half mask respirator and goggles (just in case).

I had some time as we were walking, to consider what other things would be helpful. One of them that quickly came to mind in that first march was an umbrella. Primarily as a way to get out of the sun, the larger protest was held on a Sunday afternoon with temps in the low 90s and high humidity BUT walking through downtown St Louis' tall buildings, and observing the wide streets and narrow alleys gave me time to think what the environment would be like in a less than peaceful protest.

I think a study umbrella would be an essential tool to protect yourself if you were to get trapped in a protest you didn't intend to be at.

First it provides a measure of camouflage. There will probably be others carrying umbrellas, and you would stand out less in a large protest. As a measure of casual protection, held lower and in front of you it would help keep some personal space. In a extreme situation, it would protect you from pepper spray BUT it might also attract attention from the police, making you a target among the crowd.

Given that folding umbrellas take up little space, and are good in everyday situations as well, keeping an umbrella with your "get home" bag in your car might be useful.

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

Good idea David!

I've also started carrying a handkerchief with me again on a regular basis, due to COVID. It's sort of always been an on-again off-again habit for me as far as EDC is concerned, but I'm trying to make it more on again. We keep an umbrella in the car, but I'm going to add a smaller one to my backpack for EDC, especially as I'm getting back to FT hours at work at the end of June. The hanky might also be useful in a pepper spray situation.