How to Avoid Holiday Violence on Black Friday

We’ve all heard reports of holiday violence breaking out at Black Friday sales across the country. Learn how to protect yourself if you shop on Black Friday.

Braving the Crowds on Black Friday

We’ve all seen how violent Black Friday can be. Every year, we hear reports of stampedes, injuries, arrests and even shootings at Black Friday sales all over the country. You might not think so, but this is one area where you might end up putting your survival skills to use sooner than you think (that is, if you do choose to go out and brave the crowds).

Black Friday Crowds

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 below 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 article 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 let’s 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.

How to Avoid Holiday Violence on Black Friday

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.

Tips for Staying Safe on Black Friday

I will be watching the news safely at home come Black 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.
  • 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.
Avoid Holiday Violence store exit sign
Keep an eye out for exit signs in case you get caught up in a mob on Black Friday. (Image via)

How to Safe During a Riot

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 being 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.

Beware of fast-moving crowds.

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.

Avoid Holiday Violence Crowd
It can be hard to maneuver through a crowd like the ones that form on Black Friday. Keep your footing and always be aware of your surroundings.

Remain diligent during a stampede.

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 the crowd is pushing pressure against 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.

Always have an exit strategy.

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.

Be 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.

Avoid Holiday Violence Shoes
Be aware of the ground you’re walking on, and wear comfortable shoes that are easy to run in if needed. (Image via)

Be completely aware of the general atmosphere of the event, as you can often anticipate panic. 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.

Do not fight a large crowd.

If you find yourself in the middle of a moving crowd do not fight against it. Do not stand still or sit down; 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 like the ocean: after you’re pushed forward in a 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. You may only be able to move a few steps at a time, but eventually you’ll make it outside of the crowd.

Above all, stay safe.

If you choose to stay in and avoid the hassle of Black Friday, I send a holiday toast your way. And for my fellow survivalists who choose to head out for that cheap 60″ television: my thoughts are with you. Happy hunting, and I wish you a safe return.

Want to know more about avoiding holiday violence? Check out these related articles:

Proof that Preparedness Doesn’t Take a Holiday

Traveling for the Holidays? Make Sure You’re Prepared

Holiday Accidents: What to Do During an Emergency

For awesome survival gear you can’t make at home, check out the Survival Life Store!

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