Rioting and civil unrest is nothing new in the United States. However, we have seen a surge in such activity in the past several months as our nation faces a perfect storm of a pandemic, social justice movements, and a national election. There appears to be little hope for this activity to dissipate any time soon and the threat it poses to the average citizen should not be taken lightly.
One of the terrifying elements of these urban riots has been the events in which drivers have found themselves in their vehicle suddenly surrounded by a violent acting mob of protesters. In such an event you may face significant danger even if you have nothing to do with the issues at hand. The environment of this civil unrest can also prove difficult to navigate as many in attendance may be peacefully protesting, but bad actors and agitators often infest the masses and seek to cause chaos.
If caught in a situation where you are surrounded by protestors and your car is unable to move without running people down, but the protesters are posing no threat to you and yours within the vehicle, then certainly bide your time until you can move and proceed on your way without hurting anyone. However, if surrounded by a mob that turns into a deadly threat by breaking the glass of the automobile, throwing incendiary devices on it, or trying to flip it over, then driving to push your way out of the mob may be necessary.
There are a variety of other circumstances that can arise as well. You may not be able to move in the vehicle and need to abandon it in order to get clear from a dangerous mob. Whatever the case may be, such events and activity warrant consideration of a dedicated toolset to keep in the vehicle for such scenarios.
This discussion does not involve guns and other weaponry, as those should be kept on your person whether in the vehicle or out of it. If you choose to carry a long gun in addition to your carry handgun be sure it is kept in a bag that is discreet, that can be slung if abandoning the vehicle. Here, though, I offer several tools to consider for keeping in a backpack or sling bag so that they are portable from one vehicle to another, and these tools should be placed in an accessible location within the car while traveling, especially in urban environments:
1 – A Large Container of OC Spray or Bear Spray
Less-lethal tools become especially important when dealing with large groups of people who can become violent. OC spray (pepper spray) can be used to disperse a crowd of people and make space to open a portal of escape. If deployed from within a vehicle, you can stick the muzzle of the spray container out the window to possibly disperse a crowd that is blocking your vehicle from leaving. For such use, a large canister of OC is needed. Also, a fog or spray pattern is ideal here rather than a stream pattern as the fog areoles and will cause more irritation. For this reason, a bear spray may be a better option as finding large versions of OC spray in such a pattern can prove difficult. Keep in mind that such OC sprays are not intended to be left in hot vehicles as they can explode in extreme heat. Thus, the spray, or the entire bag that contains these tools, should come in the house rather than sit for extended periods in a hot car.
2 – A Small Fire Extinguisher
The use of incendiary devices is a popular tactic among insurgent forces bent on destroying property to cause chaos. Throwing an incendiary, such as a Molotov cocktail, at an occupied vehicle is absolutely deadly force and can be dealt with as such. Since the threat of fire is quite real during such incidents, having a quickly accessible fire extinguisher right in the riot defense pack makes good sense. This should be in addition to a fire extinguisher already in the vehicle.
3 – A Full Trauma Kit
The possibility of sustaining an injury while in a vehicle is always relevant and having a trauma kit in the car should be standard operating procedure anyway. However, adding a full trauma kit to the riot survival bag makes perfect sense. Having several tourniquets, pressure dressings, hemostatic gauze, and chest seals is wise, and having medical gloves and sheers also makes sense as you may need to provide medical assistance for others.
4 – A Glass Breaker/Rescue Tool
Breaking out of your vehicle through the windows is a very real possibility, as is the need to cut free of a seatbelt. While having a knife on your person should be a standard part of preparedness, adding one of the many available glass breaker/strap cutter tools to this particular pack makes perfect sense. The need to rescue yourself or others from your own vehicle, or the need to rescue others from a different vehicle, is relevant. One of the rescue tools in the form of a hammer with a glass break tip, with a strap cutter built into it, makes for a valuable addition to this riot survival bag.
5 – Masks and Safety Glasses
Should you and your family members need to bail out of the vehicle you may likely be exposed to tear gas, smoke, OC spray, and flying debris. While we are all currently tired of wearing masks due to the ongoing pandemic protocols, having face masks and safety glasses for everyone in the vehicle in this bag is fitting and these prove cheap and easy additions. Face masks alone are not a perfect solution, but they can help. Eye protection is also of great importance and pairs of safety glasses, or, better yet, safety goggles can be kept in this bag. Should you get stuck in a demonstration the occupants of the vehicle should put on this safety equipment as soon as possible.
6 – Decon Wipes and Eye Wash
In violent demonstrations, the use of tear gas and OC spray is of high likelihood. If one or all members of your vehicle gets exposed, having some decontaminate wipes in the pack, specifically for decontaminating OC spray and other chemicals, can help. These wipes are not a perfect solution and they don’t magically stop the effects of OC or other chemicals, but they can help get the chemicals off the skin. Likewise, a bottle of medical eyewash can be kept in the bag to wash out the eyes of anyone exposed to chemicals or smoke.
In the wake of current events the addition of firearms or other weaponry to your person or vehicle may make sense for your personal circumstances, but the tools listed here that are less-lethal, medical, and protective in nature, certainly demand consideration as well.