Active Shooter Realities: How to Prepare for the Unthinkable

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The FBI defines an active shooter as one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. Tragically, in 2018 the U.S. experienced 27 active shooter events across 16 states. With the 27 events, the FBI recorded a total of 85 people killed with 128 people wounded.

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Looking out a bit further from 2000 through 2017, FBI statistics show us that the U.S. experienced a total of 250 active shooter incidents that left 799 people dead and 1,418 casualties. The statistics point to 2017 as the most violent year for active shooters, yielding 138 deaths and 591 casualties.

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The 2000 through 2017 statistics show us that businesses experienced the most active shooter events with more than one third (38%) of the occurrences happening at the workplace. Schools followed businesses with a recorded total of 14.8% incidents.

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The FBI statistics tell us that an active shooter incident can occur anywhere. As the U.S. mourns the recent tragic active shooter events it is important to keep front of mind what you need to do to help protect yourself during an active shooter event.

Here are some tips:

First, and foremost, get away if you can. Stay low and run away from the shooter or the sound of the gunshots. Do not run in a straight line. Make your movement unpredictable such as running in a zig zag motion. 

If you cannot get away, find cover. Cover is anything that can effectively shield you from gunfire. Remember, most active shooters use high-powered rifles, assault weapons or semiautomatic guns, so the bullets will have a higher penetrating power. Do your best to find cover that also conceals you. Stay behind cover until you can get away, or until the police secure the scene. 

If you cannot get away or find cover, then find concealment. In other words, hide so the shooter can’t see you. Be acutely aware that concealment is not cover and cannot protect you from gunfire.

Always remember, law enforcement is on the way. In most cases, the police respond quickly to an active shooter incident; therefore, you are trying to buy yourself time.

During any of these courses of action, if you encounter the police, it is imperative that you make sure to let them know that you’re not a threat. Police have a saying, “It’s the hands that will hurt you.” Raise your arms, open your hands,  and obey their commands. They’re there to help you. 

In the end, just know that in order to increase your chances for survival, you have to take action. Do something! Don’t let fear paralyze you.