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What to Do in an Active Shooter Situation

What to Do in an Active Shooter Situation

It is very unfortunate that in this century, active shootings have already become what feels to be a common occurrence in the United States. Terrorist groups are also using active shootings in other parts of the glove to harm others and instill fear. From workplaces to school shootings, people can’t help but fear for their lives. 

With the increasing number of active shooter situations, it only makes sense to make sure that you know what to do if you ever find yourself in such a circumstance.

The Profile of an Active Shooter

Active shootings have become an increasingly growing issue in the US as well as a heated topic of debate. There have already been 46 mass shootings in 2018 thus far. An alarming number, especially considering that there were over 4 casualties in each incident.

It is very difficult to predict who will become the next assailant simply because there are no telltale signs or conclusively accurate methods to profile potential shooters.

However, there are still ways to identify signs of suspicious activity before the situation escalates. You and your community can then become more vigilant in reporting such activities to authorities. This vigilance and active reporting have and will help a lot in preventing these types of attacks.

A majority of active shooters have looked like an average citizen. There is no such thing as distinctive traits or characteristics about these people. You cannot identify an active shooter on a person’s appearance alone.

What motivates shooters to attack then? Since very little is revealed based on age and physical appearance, it is imperative to look for a known history of behavioral or psychological insights to know the motivation behind an active shooter.

Checking the backgrounds of the newest assailants has pinpointed some common motivations behind their actions. These include financial troubles, trouble with relationships, mental issues, or a desire for infamy.

During an Active Shooter Event

If you do find yourself facing an active shooter event, there are three main things you can do to ensure your safety - Run, Hide and Fight and prioritized in that order. All three measures are explained in detail below:


Running away must always be your main priority during an active shooter or any other dangerous event. The moment you hear gunfire, safely make your way to the exits noted in your emergency plan you had originally developed and practiced.

Try to get as far away from the danger as you can. The goal here is to escape with no risk of danger. Always remember that during an active shooter situation, many people might refuse to move because of fear, ignorance, or they assume that hiding is a better alternative. However, running away will always be the safest bet.

Do what you can to convince anyone who may believe otherwise as it may save their lives as well but when met with unreasonable responses, prioritize your safety above all else. As you leave the area or encounter any authorities, your hands should stay visible. Law enforcement will check to determine if you are a threat or not.

If you are in an open area with no available cover, run as quickly as possible to the nearest available cover or exit. If you are being targeted, running in a zig-zag pattern with sharp turns may prove helpful. Shooting moving targets can be difficult even for the most experienced marksman and most active shooters have little to no experience with firearms.

If you are unable to run away, always keep some type of cover between yourself and the shooter. Your goal, in this case, is to minimize exposure to harm.

Once you are in a safe place, if authorities are not on scene yet, contact 911 immediately, never assuming that somebody else has already done so.


Sometimes, running is not an option as the shooter has somehow blocked the only available exits. If you cannot make an escape, the next thing you should do is hide in a secure place.

The ideal hiding spot is a place that the shooter should not come across but can also offer protection should gunfire head in your general direction. Search for a room with a lockable door. If you cannot lock the door, barricade it with any available furniture or heavy objects. Your goal is to make it as difficult as possible for the shooter to enter.

Turn off any lights where you are hiding and stay as quiet as possible. Set your phone to silent and do everything you can to minimize any evidence of your presence. Get as far away from the door as possible and take cover behind additional cover where available.

If possible, you can dial 911 and let authorities know there is an active shooter in the building. If you have the slightest doubt that the shooter may be near you, do not speak but leave the line on so that the dispatcher will be able to hear should there be any developments.

Do not open the door for any reason until you are absolutely certain it is safe or if you are notified by authorities. According to experts, shooters will knock on doors or yell for help to trick others into revealing their locations.


When hiding or running has failed or are not viable options, you must fight to protect yourself. A majority of civilians have doubts about taking on active shooters because shooters have guns and they don’t.

However, when you have no other options, you must do all you can to fight for your life. In that instant, you must dispel any fears and prioritize disarming or incapacitating the shooter with whatever means available.

It is true that other studies have suggested that armed civilians could minimize the number of fatalities in active shooting incidents in comparison to situations where there weren’t armed civilians.

However, what such studies suggest is that civilians, whether armed or not, who take action against the shooter quickly can minimize the number of the victims as well. Therefore, though you do not plan to carry a firearm yourself, commit to the idea that if you have to, you will not hesitate to defend yourself.

What if Someone Else is Hurt or Calls for Help?

If you’re safely hidden, take the time to ensure you are safe and that the shooter is not nearby if you hear someone calling for help. You should apply this even if your friends or colleagues are the ones calling for help or knocking. Only open the door for somebody else if you know the shooter isn’t in the area.

If somebody near you is already bleeding and it won’t jeopardize your safety, do what you can to apply a tourniquet or apply pressure to the wound. This action could potentially save a life.

You can use a tourniquet for slowing bleeding if possible, yet you should be aware that improper application may exacerbate the situation. You can apply the pressure to staunch blood from the wounds that are less severe and elevate them.

Always do a visual check for anyone that may have run into the shooter, there are times that people get shot and do not realize it whether it’s due to shock or adrenaline.

When Help Arrives

Once the police arrive, you and others might not be immediately sure who is the suspect so you should put your hands up as well as spread your fingers to show you’re not carrying anything that might be mistaken for a weapon.

Do not run to them and only speak when spoken to. Their primary goal is to dispatch the shooter and you will be directed to assisted care as soon as possible.

Planning and Preparation

There are several things you can do to prepare for an active shooter situation beforehand.

Stay Informed

  • Sign up for active shooter training if available.
  • If you see or notice something, make sure to notify authorities immediately.
  • Sign up get local emergency alerts then register your contact details with available work sponsored alert systems.
  • Always be wary of your surroundings and potential dangers.

Make a Plan

  • Create a plan with your family and see to it that everyone will know what to do if ever find themselves in an active shooter situation.
  • Always note the exits in the places you frequent as well as possible hiding places.
  • Adapt and understand your plan for those with special needs circumstances.

Consider Body Protection

Today, you can easily purchase a bulletproof vest, bulletproof backpack, bulletproof clothing, or other types of body armor that you can use to serve as your protection during active shooter incidents. These products are now available in different styles and sizes to fit users of all ages.

Proper preparation can really save your life. Concealable or covert body armor such as the DL Concealed Plate Carrier from Spartan Armor Systems or the array of concealable vests from BulletSafe are effective options.

There are also a large variety of backpacks that offer ballistic protection such as Guard Dog Security, BulletBlocker backpacks. Also, backpacks from Leatherback Gear can be quickly converted into bulletproof vests to protect your front and back sides. If you'd like to use an existing backpack, backpack armor plates from TuffyPacks and Angel Armor offer soft ballistic panels in an array of sizes to fit whichever backpack type you use on a daily basis.

Plan, Prepare, Protect Yourself

Do whatever it takes to preserve your life and possibly others as well. Consider signing up for any available classes on emergency preparation in your area and also possibly investing in body protection whether it be a vest or even simple backpack armor to go in your everyday bag or purse.

An active shooting situation is a nightmare that we hope no one ever encounters and nobody ever expects it to happen to them. However, a little preparation and knowledge goes a long way and could mean the difference between life and death should you find yourself in a situation like this.



How to Prepare Your Children for an Active Shooter Situation

How to Prepare Your Children for an Active Shooter Situation

Shootings have become more frequent recently which is a great cause of concern for many people, especially parents who see their children off to school every day and are not able to be near them 24/7. Preparing your children for the worst and teaching them how to react in dangerous situations may potentially save their lives.

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