Preparing for the worst can be difficult. Nobody wants to think about being involved in a situation with an active shooter-they can be unpredictable and unfold quickly. Because an active shooter behaves erratically, they have no pattern and their victims are random—being prepared can be your best defense.
Responding to an active shooter situation
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, active shooter situations are unpredictable and unfold quickly. There is usually no pattern and their victims are selected randomly. Active shooters can appear in public places such as movie theaters and shopping malls or in private workplaces. No matter where you are, remain as calm as possible and remember:
- Be aware of any possible danger in your environment
- Identify the two nearest exits
- If you can flee, do so immediately—leave belongings behind
- If you cannot flee, hide in an area where the shooter can’t see you
- If you are behind a door, try to lock or block entry to it
- Silence electronic devices
- As a last resort, try to incapacitate the shooter. Keep moving and be distracting. In close range situations, fighting increases your chance of survival.
- Call 911 as soon as you can do so safely
Wait for law enforcement to arrive
Law enforcement will usually be required to end the situation. Comply with law enforcement and allow them to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.
There are several ways you can assist:
- To the best of your ability, be prepared to provide 911 and law enforcement with your location, the number of shooters, physical description of the shooter(s), the number and type of weapons used by the shooter(s) and the number of potential victims
- When law enforcement arrives, remain calm and follow all instructions
- Don’t scream or yell
- Keep your hands raised, visible and free of any objects
- Evacuate the area quickly—do not stop law enforcement to ask questions or for help
Facing an active shooter can be unimaginable, but being prepared might save your life. Remember to stay alert and as calm as possible. Try to run first, hide if you cannot flee safely and fight only when you have no other choice.