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There have been 162 school shootings in the United States since 2013. It seems that every month there is another tragedy involving an active shooter and innocent victims. It is difficult for us to imagine the horror experienced by the victims at Sandy Hook, in Oregon, Arizona, and most recently, in San Bernardino. Many years ago, a good friend of mine was the victim of an armed robbery while he was working in a convenience store. It sounds a little cliché, but he told me all he could think about was his family while he was looking down the barrel of that gun. He couldn’t even give an accurate description of the gunman, because he was so focused on that gun. That being said, there are some precautions and actions we can take that may help save lives. These are not foolproof, by any means, but they may help mitigate the danger. Below are some useful tips from the Department of Homeland Security.


Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. Remember that customers and clients are likely to follow the lead of employees and managers during an active shooter situation.


If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
  • Leave your belongings behind
  • Help others escape, if possible
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be
  • Keep your hands visible
  • Follow the instructions of any police officers
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people
  • Call 911 when you are safe.

Hide out

If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Your hiding place should:

  • Be out of the active shooter’s view
  • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed and locked door)
  • Not trap you or restrict your options for movement

To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place:

  • Lock the door
  • Blockade the door with heavy furniture

If the active shooter is nearby:

  • Lock the door
  • Silence your cell phone and/or pager
  • Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions)
  • Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks)
  • Remain quiet

If evacuation and hiding out are not possible

  • Remain calm
  • Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location
  • If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen

Take action against the active shooter

As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:

  • Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her
  • Throwing items and improvising weapons
  • Yelling
  • Committing to your actions

More information about what to do during an active shooter emergency can be found at the Department of Homeland Security website. Information about other emergencies can be found at

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