Office buildings, shopping malls, schools, and other public buildings have become primary targets for active shooters in the United States and around the world in the past few decades. While the chances of you getting into a situation like this personally are rather slim, it’s still a good idea to know what to do if it does happen. The basic three rules to remember according to experts are:
With the different architectural structures of buildings, there is no way to create a universal method for escaping an active shooter. You should still prepare yourself the best you can if you want to have the highest chance of survival. Learn, remember, and implement these guidelines if you ever do find yourself in one of these grim and terrifying situations.
Be Aware of Your Exits
When you’re in places that you spend a lot of time in or regularly visit like work or the grocery store, know how to get out. There are always multiple exits, and the last place you are likely going to want to escape is the front door. Chances are that’s the same way the shooter came in, and you aren’t going to want to walk past him or her to leave. Even when you go into a new building, you should be checking your exits upon arrival. Being aware of your surroundings is the first line of defense because it gives you the option to run away quickly.
Find a Place to Hide
When there is no possibility of you escaping, you have to find someplace to hide out of the gunman’s line of sight. You don’t want to hide in the first spot you can think of hoping you don’t get seen. You need to find a place with a lock that you can barricade yourself into and the shooter out of. If your building has an elevator, see if there is a closet nearby. Those areas are generally reinforced during construction so shooting through the walls isn’t done as easily as if it were just drywall. If the only place you have to hide is under a desk or somewhere that seems too obvious, do it. It’s better than not doing anything at all.
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Get Help if You Can
Never stop to grab a cell phone or any of your other possessions while you are darting to your hiding place. However, if you find yourself in a dark area where the gunman can’t see you and you do have your device on you, put the phone on silent and dial 911. If there’s a chance the shooter is going to be able to hear you talking to dispatch, don’t say anything. Let the operator listen to what’s going on.
You can also use that phone if it’s a smart device and post to social media or text someone to let them know what’s happening. There’s a possibility that nobody outside of the situation has heard what’s occurring yet, and you could be the first one to make the authorities aware.
Fight as a Last Resort
The majority of the public isn’t trained to take down an active shooter. However, if you have absolutely no other option than to go at them, do it, but do it with everything you have. Throw anything you can that’s heavy enough to cause damage. If you are thinking of taking them down physically, watch until they have to reload so that you know they can’t shoot. Be aware that reloading can be done in a matter of a few seconds, so if you’re going to do it, you have to be fast.
When It’s Over
When the police show up, put your hands in the air and refrain from any communication with officers until they have the scene secured and they start asking questions.