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Disaster Survival Magazine


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Preparing for Civil Unrest - the Disaster You Must Consider Given Recent Global Economic Challenges

Night photo of fire in street set by rioters. Citizens not directly involved in a civil unrest event may still have their lives significantly disrupted. Your ability to work, enjoy recreation, travel and in some cases, obtain necessities may be jeopardized or delayed. The disruption of infrastructure elements may also occur during very severe events. Public utilities such as water, fuel and electricity may be temporarily unavailable, as well as public infrastructure for land-line and mobile communications.

Occasionally, the disruption of such services may be the original cause of the unrest. More frequently, the cause of such issues is related to economic stagnation, severe inflation, devaluation of currency, disasters man-made or natural, severe unemployment, oppression, political scandal, or, in some countries, sporting events.


Familiarize yourself with these levels of civil unrest identified by Claire Wolfe.
  • Level 1 - The lowest level of civil unrest is spontaneous when people turn on their own neighborhoods causing mayhem and destruction. This mostly affects people who live, work, or must travel through the neighborhood.
  • Level 2 - This level of civil unrest is usually planned and may be focused in a single area but generally rioters or protesters have deliberately targeted a business, a facility, a transportation system, or an organization to cause maximum disruption. This level of unrest can disrupt normal life and business in a whole region.
  • Level 3 - This level of civil unrest comes when mass unrest or authoritarian crackdown causes disruption at the state or regional level. Effects may include travel restrictions, random ID checks, mass arrests, food and fuel rationing, controls on money and banking, roadblocks, and other harsh "emergency" restrictions.
  • Level 4 - This level is the same as level 3 but on a national or even international scale.


During periods of civil unrest in your area:
  • Listen to your TV or battery powered radio if the electricity is out, to understand the current boundaries of the unrest. Given the location of the unrest start planning how you can maintain your normal activities while avoiding the area.
  • Verify that your 72 hour emergency supplies are accessible and “fresh."
  • Coordinate with neighbors (assuming the unrest is not in your neighborhood) in regards to ride sharing and transporting children to school. Drive only if it is absolutely necessary and if you must drive, consider the following:
    • Travel in the daytime, don't travel alone and keep others informed of your schedule and route.
    • Keep a car survival kit in your car with essential survival supplies.
    • Stay on main roads, avoid back roads and shortcuts.
    • Depending upon the level and location of the unrest, plan on how to ration fuel, food and water supplies.
    • Consider how you will defend your emergency supplies and food should local looting become an issue. And since civil unrest is not solely an urban phenomenon, rural citizens should also plan accordingly especially related to protecting farm products and livestock.
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