The first three days after a crisis is relativity calm and it can be called a gracious period where people help others and provide a hand up to the less fortunate. Rules are followed and pilfering supplies or looting a grocery store is far from people’s minds at this point. Survivors are thinking in the back of their mind that the authorities (government) are marshalling troops to provide disaster relief.
The chaos caused by the disaster itself can however, pale in comparison to the turmoil that certain citizens themselves can cause after three days or more. Once people realize their government is ill-equipped to handle the situation desperation creeps in. Antagonists and others sense this and begin whipping up crowds with the guise of demanding support from the government when in reality the so-called anarchists simply want to take advantage of the situation. They want to further the notion that government should be abolished, by emphasizing the lack of response thus far. Demonstrations turn into riots.
Demonstrators for the most part do not even know why they are marching; someone is doing their thinking for them. This is mob mentality. Collectively they will destroy buildings, cause physical harm to others and try thwarting any kind of authority and yet, many as individuals would never dream of doing such things. If you do not believe this can happen where you live, remember hurricane Katrina and super storm Sandy, and watch the world news to see the riots and mobs gathering to protest governmental policies. During a crisis many turn to their government for help, and when that help is not forthcoming those same people will turn against their government and then each other.
People panic because they do not know what to do next. If you are prepared for a crisis, you will know what to do next. However, you may be caught up in civil unrest and it may force you to evacuate your community. You may have to relocate within your own city if evacuation to a safe haven outside the city is not possible.
You cannot become trapped on the upper floors of an apartment building. You may experience power disruptions and once you lose electricity, the stairwells and hallways become ambush points. Find a vacant apartment at ground level, and take it over for the time being. You need to be at ground level to escape if looters or others set fire to your building or otherwise make it too dangerous to live there. You need a quick escape route. If the crisis is, city or countrywide many will have already fled so there will be resources you can use for the time being.
Push heavy furniture against entry points and tape or nail nylon or canvas tarps, sheets of plastic or blankets over all windows to slow down an intruder long enough for you to escape. Do not barricade yourself to the point you do not have a way to escape however. You may not be able to stop a determined intruder but you can slow one down enough for you to get away. Unless you are specifically targeted, some if not most looters will move on to an easier target if they meet resistance, so make it difficult for them.
Having emergency supplies means you would not need to venture out, and even if you did, you may find most of the stores are closed or have been looted.
Some Interesting Facts about Riots and Looting
According to eyewitnesses and from police records, food items are the last to be looted during civil unrest (rioting). Drugs specifically pain killers, diapers, alcohol and tobacco products are the first to go and then weapons and ammunition. Food remained on the shelves in some cases untouched for three days or longer during major riots. After four or five days, people begin trying to steal gasoline and even generators along with vehicles. After a few days of venting frustration at the government, rioters will find others to vilify thus, excusing their actions. Retailers and bankers will be next and after four or five days into the civil unrest, you are next on the list.
Stay off the streets particularly at night and if you have to venture out do not go near commercial areas because that is where looting and other criminal activity will be most active. Ideally, you will know your neighborhood so you do not become trapped in dead-end alleyways, and you know where all the dead-end or cul-de-sac streets are.
When traveling or evacuating make sure you map out your routes so you do not have to use pedestrian walkways on bridges and that you avoid tunnels and overpasses, as well, to keep from becoming trapped.
Prepare for civil unrest just as if you would for any disaster, have adequate supplies of water, food and other essentials and always keep the possibility of evacuation in mind. Make sure every member of the family has a backpack with survival essentials. You may have to leave on foot so prepare for this possibility as well. Successful evacuations only happen if you prepare and leave before there is a mass exodus from the city.