Safety tips for active shooter situations: What to do to prepare, to survive and in the aftermath

The Baltimore Sun

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has several recommendations for what to do should an active shooting event occur.

Here are a few things to know:

Prepare in advance

While many places such as schools, hospitals and workplaces have emergency plans in place, experts recommend taking the time to sign up for an active shooter training course. The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers web-based training on its website.

When entering buildings such as a shopping mall or health care facility, take the time to get into the habit of identifying two exits, according to FEMA.

Experts say people should map out good places to hide. Windowless rooms with solid doors that lock are ideal. Heavy furniture and desks can make good hiding places, according to FEMA.

During a shooting

Experts recommend using three tactics in a public shooting situation — run, hide or fight.

Running, if possible, is the top priority in shooting situations, according to the DHS website. A person should leave belongings behind, warn and prevent individuals from entering an area where an active shooter might be, help others if possible, but evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow. Call 911 when safe and describe the shooter, location and weapons, experts say.

If a situation is impossible to escape from, experts recommend hiding out of the shooter’s view and staying very quiet, which includes silencing electronic devices from ringing or vibrating.

The DHS does not recommend hiding in groups, but, rather, spreading out along walls or hiding separately. Lock and block doors, close blinds and turn off lights, the DHS website says.

Experts also recommend trying to communicate with police silently. Use text messages or social media to tag locations or put a sign in a window.

The DHS website says the last resort should be to fight. Experts recommend recruiting others to ambush the shooter with makeshift weapons, such as chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors or books. Items can also be thrown to distract and disarm the shooter.

After a shooting

Law enforcement’s primary goal will be to first end the incident, which might mean passing injured along the way through a space, the DHS website says. Experts recommend keeping hands visible and empty as law enforcement navigate a situation.

Medical skills might also be helpful in active shooter situations. The DHS website recommends applying direct pressure to wounds and turning wounded people onto their sides if they are unconscious.

Government experts also advocate that victims present during a mass shooting consider seeking professional help to cope with long-term effects of trauma.

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