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Safety Precautions During Civil Unrest

6/4/2020
Protests and riots can break out anywhere and at any time – a frightening reality for many travelers. Considering recent news across the United States, the Assist America team  has compiled a list of tips to help you stay safe when facing any volatile environments.
 

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Stay Safe While Traveling

  • Stay updated about current news or contact your embassy and request regular updates if you are in a volatile area
  • Avoid the area or stay in your accommodation until you are sure that it is safe to go outside if you hear that a demonstration is taking place
  • Carry a map of the city in the case you need to avoid taking certain routes where demonstrations are taking place on your way back to the hotel
  • In the case you cannot avoid the area with ongoing protests, take someone with you and look out for each other by maintaining visual contact
  • Avoid any place where police or security force action is in progress


Accommodation Safety Tips

  • Contact your embassy or consulate and advise them of your situation and whereabouts instead of leaving the accommodation or going into the street
  • Upon hearing gunfire or explosions outside, stay away from the windows and draw the curtains or blinds to prevent shards of broken glass from entering
  • If you are in premises which have doors or windows opening on to the roadside of the property, ensure that all windows and external doors are closed and locked
  • Sleep in an inside room of the accommodation which will provide greater protection against gunfire, rocks, or grenades
  • If a demonstration is taking place outside your hotel, speak with hotel management to keep updated on the situation outside the hotel


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When in a Violent Protest

  • Keep to the edge of the crowd where it is safest, stay away from leaders or agitators if you are surrounded by a crowd of protestors, and avoid running away to not draw attention towards you
  • Slowly walk away from the crowd when you see an opportunity, seek refuge in a nearby building, doorway, or alley, and stay there until the crowd passes
  • Remember to keep calm even when you are in the crowd, stay clear of glass shop fronts, stay on your feet, and move with the flow
  • If you are swept along in the rush, create a space for yourself by grasping your wrists and bracing your elbows away from your sides; bend over slightly – this should allow you breathing room
  • Try to get against a wall, roll yourself into a tight ball, and cover your head with your hands until the crowd passes if you are pushed to the ground
  • Drop to the ground, cover your head and neck, and lie as flat as you can if gunshots are fired


Trapped in a Car During Civil Unrest

  • Never drive through a crowd, instead, look around to see if you can turn down the nearest side road or reverse and turn your car around to drive away from the crowd
  • If driving away is not an option, park the car, lock the car, and leave it, to find shelter in a side street or doorway
  • If you do not have time to leave the car, stop and turn the engine off, lock the doors, remain calm and composed, and be sure to not show signs of hostility or anger


After Civil Unrest

  • Seek a place of safety in a less volatile area if it is unsafe to stay where you are
  • If you are arrested by the police/military during the protest, do not resist, go along peacefully, and contact your embassy to help you resolve your predicament
  • If you have suffered injury, seek medical assistance or if you have incurred any loss or damage of property, report it to the police
  • Report your situation and share your whereabouts with family, friends, or business associates