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8 Tips For Surviving an Active Shooter Situation In Your School or Workplace

First off I want to say that first and foremost my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and families of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  I cannot possibly imagine what they are going through.  Over the last couple of days, I’ve found myself thinking of the kids who went through this traumatic experience:  the fear they must have felt, the feelings of despair at watching their friends and teachers being gunned down, the nightmares that follow a traumatic experience such as this.

My kids are young, but as seen at Sandy Hook we know that these shootings can happen at any school whether it is an Elementary, Middle or High School.  With that being said, how do we know that our kids are adequately prepared with the knowledge and skills to protect themselves?   I’ve pulled together a list of tips from security professionals that can help you or your child survive a mass shooting in a school or workplace.  Mass shootings appear to the on the rise, so I think it’s important to share some specific tips and ideas that can be used to stay safe during these mass shooting events.

  1.  Talk to your kids and explain to them that these things happen and while rare they need to know what to do.
  2.  Teach them that they should make themselves aware of their surroundings at all time – identify possible exits, etc.
  3. If they are in an active shooter situation, they need to decide whether to run or hide — If they are in the classroom, I’m sure there is a “lockdown plan” in place, but if they are in the hallway they need to run away from the noise and take cover in a nearby classroom if at all possible.
  4. If they make it into a classroom they should turn off the lights and lock and barricade the door(a simple door stop will do the trick because if the shooter shoots out the lock, the door stop will still hold and can buy you some time.)  Determine the best location to take cover and keep your head down.  If you can find a closet or to get in, do it, so that you can put more distance and barriers between you and the shooter.  
  5. Once they have taken cover, they should call 9-1-1.
  6. Look for things that can be used as weapons if the shooter tries to enter the room.  Locate the nearest fire extinguisher and have it on hand to spray it in the face of the shooter in the event that he gains access to the room.
  7.  If they are confronted by an active shooter in a hallway, cafeteria or library they need to find a place to hide.  A vending machine or trash can is a great place to start.  If you can find a fire extinguisher this would be another great time to use it.  Wait for him to get close enough to where you are hiding and spray the fire extinguisher in his face.   If you can’t find a fire extinguisher, just wait for the shooter to get past you and then run or crawl undetected in the opposite direction.  If there is nowhere to hide, hit the floor and “play dead” until the shooter has left the area.
  8. For older students and teachers, I think that they should consider options to fight back.  The gunman is looking for easy targets and will not be expecting an ambush.  Have one person create a distraction and then another person hit him with something heavy.

Recent events show that the person(s) committing these heinous often times have mental illness and there were tons of warning signs.   So, it got me to thinking:  What if every school/school district had a dedicated employee that monitors all social chatter for plans related  upcoming attacks.  I don’t know about you, but I would happily pay a portion of the salary to someone that could help prevent this type of tragedy from occurring again.

As a side note:  I highly recommend these bulletproof backpacks to give your child an added layer of protection in the event that they encounter an active shooter situation.  I first read about them after the Sandy Hook massacre, and I remember thinking that it was a good idea and might be a worthwhile investment.

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