French Riot - Can It Happen Here? Oct. 20, 2010

Riots, here?

The French government is proposing raising the retirement age from 60 to 62 and making other changes to the pension system there.  The average French worker enjoys over a month of vacation each year and the most years of retirement of the Western world.  To pay for these entitlements, they also have one of the highest personal tax rates in the world (from what I can tell from a little research, it looks like about 50%!)

The proposed retirement changes have brought eight days of rioting across France.  According to CNN, the riots have involved 1-3.5 million people.  The unions have stopped picking up trash.  They've blockaded much of the local and international transportation infrastructure.  Cars are burning in cities and over a third of the nation's gas stations are out.

Could we have riots like this in the U.S.?  We have a history of coordinated or coincidental rioting in our major cities.  Think back to the Seattle and Pittsburgh riots associated with world economic meetings.  How about after the Rodney King police verdict?  Maybe the rioting associated with sports teams winning or losing championships?  Ever heard of the nylon riots of 45-46?  Neither had I until just now.  We are by no means immune to widespread rioting, especially in our urban centers.

So, how can we include riots in the disasters and crises that we prepare for?  In many ways, riot preparations fall under Jack Spirko's Law of Disaster Commonality.  Preparing for a riot includes many of the same things you would do for a hurricane, wild fires, flooding, job loss, etc...

Stay informed.  Riots very seldom happen spontaneously.  Be alert to local and national news that may spark riots.  Labor issues; sensational criminal trials; racial incidents; supply line breakdowns; rumors of any of the preceding...  these are but a few of the potential riot triggers.

Stay away.  Most riots happen "down town" or in urban centers.  They usually spread to the suburbs or to rural areas.  Even if you have to be down town for work or another reason, know were the bad areas are and travel out of your way to avoid them.  If you live in such areas, have either a fall back location or make plans to stay and defend your home from intruders, arson, occupation, etc...  Camping Survival.com recently reminded readers about an affiliated page of theirs that has the story of a young man and his family stuck right in the middle of the 1992 LA riots.  Its a real eye opener.

Stay alert.  Don't be complacent while driving, walking, shopping, etc...  The group of angry youth blocking the intersection probably don't want to help you read a map.  If you see a riot forming or know that one is nearby, take the action necessary to get out of the area or seek secure shelter.  If you are in a car, you have a 2,500 lb. weapon at your disposal.  You don't want to end up like Reginald Denny, the truck driver who was pulled from his truck and beaten nearly to death in the LA riots.

Maybe you are like me.  I live in a quiet, rural area, but I commute over an hour to my job in a very urban city of over 200,000 people.  The city has a lot of poverty and tension, and I keep riot escape in the back of my mind as I move through my day.  Of course, that escape plan is very similar to my plan to get home in the aftermath of a hurricane or a winter storm.  I have my BOB with some food, a change of clothes, and a little gear.  I also know several routes to get home and a couple of safe shelters along the various routes.

Riots can and do happen in America.  But we can and should be prepared for them.

Mosquito Mitigation

I promised in a Facebook post to discuss mosquito mitigation in light of the apparent increase in West Nile Virus this year.  We have three basic things we can do - eliminate, deter, and avoid.

  • Remove standing water on your property.  That is where mosquitoes breed.
  • Build several bat houses.  A single brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in one hour.
  • Get a good, old fashioned bug zapper.  Kills mosquitoes and keeps the whole family entertained!
  • Among the best deterrents is any mosquito repellent containing DEET.  The thing to consider, is that it is a harsh chemical, and there have been rare cases of seizures associated with it.  Please carefully follow directions with it if you choose to use it.
  • There are several essential oils that users say reduce mosquitoes.  They are often combined with rubbing alcohol, witch hazel or vodka (does it make the mosquitoes too drunk to bite?).  Among the oils are citronella, soybean and fennel.
  • Planting marigolds can repel mosquitoes, and can also keep harmful bugs off your vegetable garden.
  • Eating garlic or lemons can deter mosquitoes as well.
  • If you are sensitive to mosquitoes, stay inside at dusk and early evening
  • Wear long pants and sleeves
  • Wear light colored clothing.
There are way too many home remedies and folk traditions about avoiding mosquito bites.  I suggest you find what works best for you and use it.  West Nile seems to be getting worse and more prevalent each year.

I'm In The News

Nope, I wasn't interviewed about If It Hits The Fan.  But, in my full-time job, I was recently interviewed for an article in the Daily Press about threat evaluation and response.  I'm in the last few paragraphs.


  1. Have you had any luck building bat houses? This is a project I have long considered. Any tips with that? Do you have them on posts or trees? etc

  2. The Mrs. and I have talked about it, but not done it. I just got a table saw this fall and plan to make a couple for our property, and also for a couple of Christmas gifts.

    I'll sure write about the process and post pics when I get to it.

    Thanks for checking in!


Please feel free to comment on my posts. I do ask that you keep the language clean. I reserve the right to moderate comments and will delete any that violate the principles of respectful discourse or that are spam. I will not delete your comment for simply disagreeing with me.