The possibility of your child being involved in an active shooter incident is an unbearable thought, but making a plan for this terrifying scenario is a must. As difficult as the subject may be to discuss with your children, remember that not doing so can have serious consequences.

What is an active shooter?

According to the FBI, an active shooter is an individual who is actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. In most cases, active shooters use firearms and rarely have a method or pattern when selecting their victims.

Because active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly, it may take some time for law enforcement to arrive at the scene. This is why it’s so important for individuals to be prepared, both mentally and physically, for anything as we share below.

Active Shooter Preparedness

  • Make sure to understand school protocol
    After the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook, many schools and therapeutic programs implemented active shooter training for teachers, along with “lockdown” drills several times throughout the year. Be sure you and your child know the practices and discuss them at home.
  • Familiarize yourself with the “Run Hide Fight” protocol

Run Hide Fight is a safety protocol recognized by law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security. Learning these principles now will prepare and empower you to put them into practice—and survive—should the unthinkable occur.

Run: If there is considerable distance between you and the active shooter/gunfire, run. Have an escape route and plan in mind.  Leave your belongings and do not attempt to move or help injured people.

Hide: If the shooter is in close proximity and you cannot evacuate safely, hide in an area out of the armed person’s view. Be quiet and silence your phone. Block entrances and lock doors.

Fight: As a last resort, fight. If you cannot evacuate, hide safely, or your life is in imminent danger, take action.Try to disable the shooter. Use improvised weapons and act as aggressively as possible toward him/her.

  • Call 911 when it is safe to do so

If you are out of harm’s way and have access to a phone, call 911. Provide the operator with the location of the active shooter, the number of shooters and type of weapon(s), physical descriptions of the shooters, and the number of potential victims.

  • When law enforcement arrives, remain calm and follow instructions

Keep your hands visible to any law enforcement you encounter. Put down items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets), raise your arms, and spread your fingers apart. Avoid quick movements, pointing, screaming, or yelling. Do not stop to ask officers for help or directions when evacuating.

It’s important to recognize that active shooters and school violence are becoming more commonplace nationwide. Taking a few steps now can help you react quickly when every second counts.