Without a doubt, the scariest aspect of these events is the randomness factor. It is frightening to think that you or your loved ones could be trapped in a such a dangerous situation while going about your daily business.
So far, there has been lots of talk in the media about gun control, but absolutely zero attention on public safety. So with a little research, I put together a few safety tips that I sincerely hope you NEVER, EVER, EVER have to use.........
First things first: Identify the Incident
- We're all familiar with the slogan "If you see something, say something" and it's worth repeating. Train yourself to stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Be on the lookout for any suspicious activity (i.e. someone sweating in the winter or looking particularly nervous for no reason), and anything that looks out of place (i.e. a dude wearing a ski parka in July). Note: this doesn't mean that you should live your life in absolute fear, just that you should stay alert and use some common sense.
- Don't assume it's a joke! If it seems like the situation is not right or dangerous, don't wait until it's too late to take action.
- Try to remain calm and take notice of as many of the details as possible, so that you can assist first responders in finding and containing the situation as quickly as possible.
- Always take notice of the nearest exits, so you can get out as quickly as possible if it is safe to do so.
- Don't stop: if you are able to get out of the situation safely, do not stop moving. Crazy people are unpredictable, so if it is safe to do so, go much further than you think is necessary (i.e. don't just stop once you reach the parking lot).
- Once you are sure that you are a safe distance away, take cover behind something solid (i.e. a brick wall).
- Call 9-1-1: Don't assume that someone else has already called. If you are able to get to a safe location, continue calling until you are able to reach a dispatcher. It's possible that you might have noticed something that other callers missed, and that could make a big difference to the emergency response.
- If you are unable to escape, try to remain as calm and quiet as possible.
- Lock the door, and block the entrance with heavy furniture, but only if it is safe to do so without alerting the shooter to your location.
- Move away from windows and doors. Turn off lights, computer screens, phones or anything else that could make the shooter aware of your location.
- If you are with other people, scatter around the room and stay low/hidden.
- For your own safety, do not approach emergency personnel unless told to do so, and follow all instructions.
- Do not start screaming or shouting when emergency personnel arrive on the scene, because this could compromise the rescue operation and cause others to panic.
- Keep your hands where emergency personnel can see them, and do not make any threatening movements. Until the situation is contained, emergency personnel will be completely focused on eliminating the danger and will likely see everyone as a possible threat.