Panic: Staying Safe In A Society On Edge

(By Samantha Biggers of Backdoor Survival) There has been a lot of horrific violence recently. It is understandable that this would have a major impact on the collective mindset of all Americans.

Despite this, here is a mind-blowing fact: Violent crime is actually down. If you take out the urban areas that have very high crime rates, the violent crime rate for a lot of people is actually quite low.

Using the FBI numbers, the overall violent crime rate fell 49% between 1993 and 2017. If you go by the Bureau of Justice Statistics the violent crime rate fell by 74%! Property crimes, which are more common than violent crimes, experienced a similar decline.

Source: 5 Facts About Crime in the United States, Pew Research Center

At least part of the reason for panic is how accessible news is to the average person.

In the past, there were a lot of terrible things that happened but we did not have the ability to instantly broadcast the news to the entire country. Now that we have this ability, each person hears about the crime occurring all over instead of the more localized incidents.

This creates a dynamic where it can seem like the world has become a lot more violent and terrible. When you see it all, it is overwhelming to the average person and makes it so that we have a mindset of living in an incredibly cruel time even if it is actually safer as a whole.

Your own reality depends on where you live.

For some people, violence is all too common. There are also areas where crimes simply don’t get reported or written up properly so they are not included in statistics. After all, if a small or mid-sized town that is trying to grow suddenly has a spike in crime, that can hinder positive economic growth and drive down housing values.

I don’t go out a lot but recently when I have, it is clear people are on edge.

Unfortunately, due to the violence and extreme division and anxiety in this country, people are on edge to the point of panic. Here are a few recent examples in the news that highlight how panic happens.

There is always a chance there is actually a real reason to run.

While this article is about how society is on edge and small things can sometimes lead to sheer panic, I want to be sure to mention that I am not suggesting you ignore it if someone yells “shooter” or hear a disturbing sound. There may actually be a real situation unfolding. In a crowd, it can be impossible to know if the threat is real or imagined so panic is often assured. Regardless, you need to consider how to handle it if you are in a crowd that is in a state of fear.

Times Square

New York City

Most of us have heard a car or a motorcycle backfire. It is a common occurrence and something in the past that might have raised some eyebrows or received a passing glance. After the 3 major mass shootings, a mere motorcycle backfiring led to an outstanding 22 people injured when people panicked in Times Square.

Valley Fair Mall

West Valley City, Utah

A sign falling during a concert at Valley Fair Mall caused crowds to run after someone yelled that there was a shooter.

USA Today

A rumor spread that there was a man with a weapon at the USA Today offices. This resulted in a total evacuation. No threat was found.

Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim CA

A fire alarm going off at the Anaheim Convention Center on August 8, 2019 was enough to cause someone to yell “active shooter”.

Yuba Sutter Fair, Yuba City, CA

At 10:15 pm August 4, 2019, the Yuba-Sutter County Fair turned to panic with crowds running and people saying there was a shooter.

Wear close-toed and sensible shoes when in crowds.

I do not wear shoes in crowds that I would not be comfortable making a getaway in. Could you run fast or walk a mile in your shoes? Look at the pile of shoes outside of Don Peppers Nightclub in Ohio. That should tell you that wearing the right shoes matters when you are running for your life or in a crowd that is panicking. I have some high heels too but I can tell you right now that I don’t wear them in crowds.

Why are you going out in a crowd?

You should consider why you are going out and if it is really worth it. Sure I know that people like to go out and socialize or get a meal but there may come a time when times are uncertain enough that you may want to consider forgoing some of the social activities that involve larger crowds.

I am not saying stay at home and be a hermit. I just think that it is wise to consider your actions and the risks you are taking so you can be better prepared no matter what.

Realize the way things are not the way you “feel” they should be

Look in an ideal world a lot of things would be different but that is not going to happen. You can cause a lot of trouble for yourself and your family by acting like you should be able to do certain things. While you may have the right to walk somewhere or go somewhere you should ask “should I”?

Don’t go towards the trouble

I watch out for news about gatherings including visiting politicians and Matt and I make sure to avoid those areas. Why on earth would I go towards potential trouble like that? While it is important for people to take stands, I have never thought that the majority of protests did any good the way they are generally executed.

I went to a college that encouraged protesting and you know who did the most good? The people that had a plan and went on to work for organizations or went into law. Screaming, yelling, and insulting others rarely does anything but make things worse and tie up resources.

If there is any civil unrest in your area, know alternative routes to get to places and avoid letting your curiosity get the best of you. This is a lesson I had reinforced in me by reading Selco’s accounts of what happened to some of the people he knew that went out when they should not have.

If you have not read Selco’s articles and books about surviving SHTF in the Balkans you should start now. I guarantee you will learn a lot and have a better survival mindset.

What to do if you are caught in a running crowd

Avoid falling if at all possible

A lot of injuries that occur when a lot of people panic is due to someone falling down and getting trampled. Try to move and get to safety sure but try to not just run blindly. If you have a child or older person with you then you may want to take a slightly different approach. Going a different way and possibly hiding may be worth considering.

Think about how to take cover until the situation becomes safer. Getting trampled is a real risk even if there is no major threat besides sheer panic. If there is a major threat, cover could save your life.

I remember watching an interview with a lady that survived the El Paso shooting by cramming herself and her grandmother under something at McDonald’s. That was smart thinking and might have saved both of their lives compared to the outcome if they had tried to go with the crowd or getaway. If you have elderly people with you or small kids, running with the crowd may not be the best idea.

Remember that if there actually is an active shooter, the more mass you can put between you and them, the better. Concealment is different than cover. Concealment means they cannot see you while cover is actual mass and protection against projectiles.

Just because you have bulletproof gear doesn’t mean you should take unnecessary risks.

I have noticed a big increase in the interest and the number of people choosing to invest in body armor, backpacks, and clothing. I can understand why people want to increase their safety and especially that of the children they send to school every day, at the same time it is important to realize that bulletproof gear has ratings and limitations.

It should not lead you to take risks and act in a way that is unsafe. If you want to know more about ratings and what certain levels of ammo will actually stop, please check out my article on bulletproof backpacks and clothing so you will know what to expect when you buy gear.

Consider shopping at smaller retailers and avoiding huge stores and malls with crowds.

There are plenty of stand alone stores that are smaller and there is always mail order. A lot of the panic incidents discussed have taken place at large stores. Wal Mart does mail order too. I have used it plenty of times. So you don’t have to give up on your favorite box stores if you have a hard time with that type of thing.

A lot of prescriptions can be purchased online and delivered to your home. Considering how many weird diseases are popping up, staying out of drug stores and areas where obviously sick people are going may be a good idea anyway.

Wal-Marts seem to be a prime target for a false report or for panic and I cannot blame people for being on edge when they go considering what happened in El Paso, TX. Just look at what happened at a Baton Rouge, LA Wal-Mart on August 6, 2019. Two men got into an argument at the Wal-Mart and drew guns on each other, leading to a lot of panic.

Practice the art of taking a second

There is something to be said for reacting quickly but there is also something to be said about taking a second to consider your actions. This is one of the first steps to avoiding panic. Even if the situation does prove to be dire, panicking might cause you more harm than good. A blind panic can lead to foolish decisions that have a permanent or at least long-lasting influence.

There is more panic to come

Hysteria and panic on a societal level is something I feel is going to get worse. It doesn’t matter what your personal beliefs are on issues, it doesn’t matter your age, gender, etc, panic and hysteria will have more of an impact on your life in the coming times so you need to know how to deal with it and stay safe.

As we near election time, panic and hysteria are going to escalate further. It is hard to see how it could not considering the rhetoric across the political spectrum and the great divisions we are seeing in the United States today.

Let’s not forget that some people will use this panic to cause trouble and get attention even if they are not actually committing any violence.

There are people that truly enjoy causing a scene and playing on people’s emotions and more of them will pop up. Yes, the fellow in the video below was armed but he was really there just to cause a panic because if he had wanted to shoot the place up he had plenty of opportunities.

Personally, it seems like a death wish to walk into a store armed in a way that mimics a mass shooter. Below is a video and story showing the case I just described.

Some people will do anything for attention or to cause more trouble. Of course, there is a good chance that anyone that chooses to do anything along these lines is mentally unstable.


Springfield, Missouri

Think before you react with a weapon or judge others for not reacting.

After the tragedy of the El Paso shooting a lot of people acted like those with firearms should have done more and people questioned why people did not. I can think of several reasons why this was the case.

For starters, you do not know how you will react no matter how much you train and practice. Being in the heat of a dangerous moment is far different than practicing. It is easy for people to make comments about other’s actions when they have not been in the situation themselves or if they have been in the situation multiple times.

In addition, it is not always wise to start waving your gun around. While a handgun is great for personal defense in many situations, it is no match for someone with an actual rifle like an AK-47 or AR-15. I am not saying someone couldn’t do some good if the circumstances are right but there is a good chance you will not get close enough to someone with a rifle without taking on a lot of risk.

If a lot of people pull out guns in a situation, it is easy for people to get hurt by accident. Imagine 10 people pulling out their pistols and shooting out of fear and with possibly very little training.

One must also consider the chance that when the police show up and you have a gun out, it is possible that you will be mistaken as a participant in the violence rather than a defender of others.

This could result in getting shot by law enforcement or another civilian in the heat of the moment or at the very least distracting them from the real perpetrators. Things can happen fast when there is a major situation going on.

Consider safe ways to socialize and have fun

There are plenty of small events you can go to in order to have fun and socialize. Here is a list of criteria I use to stay safe.

  • Where are the exits?
  • Is the event outside or inside? I prefer outdoor events where I can plan an exit fast. Live music events that have trees and other cover and a lot of ways out are always preferable to me. Enclosed large spaces are simply not okay for me. I want to be able to leave quickly if necessary.
  • Is the event strictly for entertainment or is there an underlying cause? Fundraisers are great but you should consider the implications of the cause and if it might draw the wrath of extremists. If that is the case and you support the cause, you might think of donating money rather than attending events.
  • Check out your town or community event calendar. Local small scale events are often a lot of fun and as safe as you will ever find.
  • Carry something for self-defense. Here is a link to my article on non-lethal weapons. I also wrote a post on improvised weapons and using what you have in your surroundings.
  • Wear sensible shoes
  • Plan out gatherings and events with trusted family and friends. As times get tougher, having a safe circle to socialize with and have some downtime, can help with morale and save a lot of money. A few families pitching in together for getaways, camping trips, and vacations, can result in everyone having a much nicer time than if everyone tried to do the same thing separately.

Last but not least, let’s stop giving people extra attention when they act out. Report live streaming crimes but don’t reshare the streams or continue watching.

This is a hard one but consider for a moment how a lot of people live stream their crimes from Facebook or go on Snapchat. It is clear that a lot of people desperately want their 15 minutes of fame.

If you see a live stream that is clearly a crime you should definitely report it to the proper authorities and the site operators but please don’t share it with others or continue watching it yourself. Even though you may not realize it at the time, you are encouraging this type of behavior.

Perhaps we should embrace the idea of not speaking the names of those that commit atrocities or create hoaxes for attention. I shared some videos in this article so you could see some of the recent incidents for yourself and I talked about some of the recent shootings but you won’t find any names of perpetrators in the wording of this article. They don’t deserve to have their names remembered nor do they deserve the fame that comes with it.

(You can find more of Samantha’s work at