What should you do if your clothing catches fire? Did you just say, “Stop, Drop and Roll”? Chances are you’ve heard that phrase dozens of times in your life, from firemen or a PSA or a poster.
But with new reports of active shooter situations in schools, shopping malls and offices bursting into the headlines seemingly every week, we all need to become familiar with a new phrase: “Run, Hide or Fight.”
The Department of Homeland Security has developed education materials including a video, pamphlets and posters aimed at educating the public about what to do in an active shooter situation. Click here for details. DHS outlines three possible actions: run, hide or fight.
Run. It’s a good practice to maintain awareness of your surroundings at all times. Be aware of potential exits any time you enter an area. Note possible escape routes in the event of an emergency. In an active shooter situation, the best opportunity for survival may lie in getting out of the area as quickly as possible. Evacuation is preferable to hiding or fighting.
During evacuation, warn others of danger, but don’t stop to give aid to the wounded. You’re likely to become a casualty yourself, and you could block others from escaping.
Hide. If evacuation is impossible, hiding is your next best option. Lock and barricade doors, and cover windows. Turn off lights, silence phones and keep quiet. Seek shelter under tables or desks, and use chairs to shield your position. If you can safely alert authorities, do so. Be prepared with as much information as possible, including the location of the shooter(s) and your location.
Fight. If you don’t have the option to run or hide, you may have to fight. Fighting an armed attacker is a last resort. Arm yourself with whatever you have at hand that you can use to strike the shooter – scissors, a chair, a broom, etc., and respond with as much force as you can.
Just as “Stop, Drop and Roll” became part of our safety vocabulary, “Run, Hide or Fight” must now become a part of our safety vocabulary, too.