Tips for Thought

School Safety Tips: Protecting Yourself From an Active Shooter

School shooting incidents have reached a dangerous record in 2022, where it’s reported that school shootings have become frequent at an alarming rate.

As of December 20, 2022, at least 300 shooting incidents on school grounds dramatically increased compared to 250 incidents in 2021 and 114 in 2020.

Until there are drastic changes in gun control and regulation of firearms, students and teachers need to practice safety protocols.

What To Do When There’s an Active Shooter?

According to the Department of Homeland Security, active shooter situations usually last ten to fifteen minutes before law enforcement arrives.

Individuals on site must prepare mentally and physically when an active shooter is on the scene.

Things To Remember Firsthand:

However, before we start with quick tips, here are some reminders that you need to equip yourself with should the scenario happen:

1. Be aware of your surroundings and any possible issues.

Know where the emergency exits are and where you can hide when the attacker starts their rampage.

2. Lock and Secure the Door if You’re in an Office or Classroom.

Barricade the doors to prevent the attacker from entering. Push a desk or bookshelf to the door to prevent them from coming in. Most active shooters would give up if they cannot get inside a barricaded room.

3. If you’re in a hallway, get into the nearest room and secure the door quickly.

Never leave things to chance. Get inside a classroom, warn the people, and barricade the doors immediately. The quicker you move, the more lives you save.

4. Fighting should always be your last resort.

If the shooter is within close range and you cannot flee, incapacitate them as quickly as possible to ensure possible survival.

5. Call 911.

When it is safe, call 9-1-1 to get authorities on site quickly.

With those things in mind, let’s focus on what we should do immediately after hearing news of an active shooter on the loose.

Steps to Take When An Active Shooter Is In the Vicinity

During this crucial period, the person must determine the best way to protect their life. Here are the possible steps to take when an active shooter is on the loose:

1. Evacuate

Your safety is your priority. Of all the choices, your best bet is to leave the area as soon as possible. During this crucial step:

  • Determine your escape route without being caught;
  • Leave your belongings behind;
  • Help others escape if possible;
  • Keep others from entering an area where the shooter may be; and
  • Call 911 when you’re safe

2. Hide Out

If escape is impossible, the next best step is to find a place where an active shooter is less likely to see you. Look for areas outside the active shooter’s view while providing protection against possible fired shots in your direction. Ensure these spaces do not trap you or limit your movement if you need to escape.

If you are inside your hiding place, do the following immediately:

  • Lock the door;
  • Barricade the door with heavy furniture;
  • Put your phone on silent;
  • Stay quiet and encourage others to do the same;
  • Hide behind large furniture like desks and cabinets;
  • Remain calm; and
  • Dial 911 and alert the police if the coast is clear. If you can’t speak, keep the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.

3. Fight Back.

Fighting against the active shooter should always be your last resort. However, if your life is in danger, attempting to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter may give you a chance to survive.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Act aggressively;
  • Throw items and improvise weapons;
  • Yell;
  • Commit to your actions, and do not let your fear keep you frozen

What To Do When Law Enforcement Arrives

The purpose of law enforcement is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. As protocol, officers will immediately proceed to the area where the last shots were heard.

Here are some steps to do when they arrive:

  • Remain calm and follow the officer’s orders;
  • Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets, phone);
  • Raise your hands and spread your fingers, always keep them visible;
  • Avoid making quick movements toward officers; and
  • Avoid pointing, screaming, or yelling; and
  • Avoid asking officers for help and direction when evacuating. Proceed to go in the direction where they came from

The first officers to arrive will continue to help injured persons, so it’s best to stay out of their way until they catch the shooter. Expect rescue teams and additional officers to follow the first group. The rescue team will start treating and removing any injured persons.

Once you have reached a safety area, you will most likely be held there until the situation is under control. Wait to leave the place until law enforcement authorities advise you to do so.

Takeaway: An active shooter on campus is an incredibly frightening situation. When this happens, it is essential always to prioritize your survival. If you can help, please do so, but remember to think and move quickly. Remember, your life is at stake.