What do you think of when you hear the words “Active Shooter?” For most of us, we envision the stories we just saw on the news, but we never think it will happen where we live.
We want to be able to turn off the news physically and mentally to get a break from the relentless acts of violence. Unfortunately, just disconnecting isn’t enough. We still need to be keenly alert in any public setting.
We also need to think about what we need to know and do now… before we are ever faced with having to survive.
1 Plan an Exit Strategy
Look at your everyday routines. Think about what you would do if you were faced with an emergency situation. What is your plan to exit your home immediately? Share this plan with your family.
What is your plan to exit a restaurant or store? When you enter, always look for an exit or door other than the one you entered in from. Know your options. Have you ever looked?
Keep in mind that employee’s usually have a separate entrance from the public. Take a minute now to think of a place you frequent often. Do you know the best option to escape if you had to today? Probably not, but now start thinking about your plan each time you are out in public.
2 People Watch
In the past, my husband would tell me I was the fashion police. We had a standing joke about me sitting away from the isles when we were out in public. Today, however, people- watching is actually a good thing now more than ever.
It’s extremely important to watch people’s actions and to notice what they are doing, who they are with, and why they are there. Notice your surroundings, and get your head out of your phone.
Look for oddities; notice people and things that seem out-of-place. Why is that person there? What are they wearing or carrying? Does it make sense? Is everyone else dressed in shorts and a tee-shirt, because it’s 90 plus degrees outside, and then you see one person fully dressed wearing a long coat?
Do you see someone else across the way dressed the same? Are they looking at their watch or seem nervous? Why did the person who just sat down next to you at the movies come in with a back pack? Did someone walk away and leave their bag? Be a people watcher!
3 Report the Suspicious
If you notice anything suspicious, don’t hesitate to report it. If it seems odd to you, it probably is odd. Law enforcement encourages us to call, so you if you see something, say something. The police can’t be everywhere, which is why we (the public) are the best defense against an attack before it happens!
When calling 911, if you don’t know the exact address of the location, provide as many details and nearby landmarks as possible to the dispatcher. You also want to provide specific information for the situation you are calling about. For instance, give details such as, “They have a gun, shots fired, and suspicious behavior is …,” and so on.
Pay close attention to the attacker(s), so you can give an accurate description to authorities. Anything you can remember will be helpful.
4 Be on High Alert in Crowds
Be on high alert in large gatherings or crowds. Terrorist want to inject fear into society focusing on large crowds, so they often attack areas with a large number of people that are usually less protected called. These are called soft targets, and they include such areas as sporting events, malls, theaters, restaurants, local celebrations, and other gatherings.
The mall on Sunday at 7 PM is not as likely to be a target as Saturday morning at 10 AM during a huge one-day sale or a Friday night opening for a new movie release.
We don’t advocate avoiding these places, but you should be more alert. Don’t be offended if you walk into a theme park or an arena and they want to check your bag or person for weapons. I welcome this. We need to do whatever we can do stop a situation before it happens.
When at an event or in the mall, walk on the outer sides as opposed to walking down the center of the street or the center of the mall walkways. This makes it easier to duck into doorways or buildings or shops for cover if you need to get out of sight quickly.
In 2016, over 12.8 million people in the U.S. currently have permits to carry a concealed weapon. Some previous articles written in 2015 credit 12 different concealed weapons carriers for stopping mass shootings in public areas. The odds are extremely low you will be faced with an active shooter situation, but if you choose to have a concealed carry permit and are faced with using your gun, there is an important fact to consider.