What to Do in an Active Shooter Situation

What to Do in an Active Shooter Situation

We have all seen the horrible stories on the news where some lunatic with a gun decides to attack dozens of innocent people. Sadly, this happens far too often. It is in the back of many people’s minds when they go out to special events. Due to this fact, it is important for everyone to know what to do in the event that an active shooter targets an event.

Being able to protect yourself in an active shooter situation begins with having a good sense of what’s going on around you. The key to preparedness is not only understanding the threat but taking the time to train yourself to be able to react during these stressful situations.

In a study done by the FBI in 2014, it was discovered that most active shootings end in 2 minutes or less. That’s not enough time for law enforcement to arrive. So when you start hearing gunshots in places you shouldn’t be hearing gunshots, understand that you don’t have very much time to think about what you should do.


You should always be aware of the exits in a room or building. You want to have a plan on how to escape if something does actually happen. You do not want to get stuck trying to find an exit, or worse, get stuck at an exit.

Another thing to consider, is that rules stop applying during an active shooter event. A person does not have to leave a building the same way they entered. If you are in a mall, or an arena when an active shooter event occurs, there are other ways out than the ones you used to get in.

In a mall, it is recommended that you run into the nearest store, and locate the door in the back marked employees only, or something similar. Go through that door. There should be another that will lead you to a concrete hallway or loading dock. Follow the hallway and find a way out. Chances are, the shooter will not go through this hallway, since they are looking to do a lot of damage, and that will be done in the main section of the mall, and at its primary exits.

In a sporting arena, try to find a door that is marked for players or talent only. There is a private exit for talent and staff to use to avoid the crowds of fans. Normally this exit is only for authorized people, but in an active shooter situation, that authorization no longer matters.

During these kinds of situation, the shooter is looking to harm as many people as possible. This is easy to do when everyone rushes for the exits at once. This creates a bottleneck and gives the shooter a lot of targets.


If you can’t run, hide. Get out of the shooter’s view and stay very quiet. This means finding a place where the shooter can’t see you and where you have at least some protection, e.g., a locked and blockaded office door. Ideally this hiding place isn’t a dead end, like a classroom with only one door, but I imagine that in the moment you have only so many options. Silence all electronic devices and make sure they won’t vibrate. Try to communicate with police silently through text message or social media- so they know geo-tagged location, or by putting a sign in a window. Stay in place until law enforcement gives you the all clear.

It is better to be prepared and think ahead of what is the worst that can happen when out and about or even in your house than living in state of cluelessness and unpreparedness.