Of all the survival scenarios for preppers, an active shooter is, sadly, among the most likely. This event is short, but intensely dangerous, and can spring upon you when you’re least prepared.
For that reason, mental preparation is more important than any gear or weapon. Luckily, there are a few things you can do before and during an attack by an active shooter to increase your survival odds.
Know Your Surroundings
Having an exit plan for any building is always a must. When you enter a building, check for where the entryways and exits are, make note of good window escape routes, and stairs up or down.
Leaving the building entirely is the best option, but if that becomes impossible or dangerous, fleeing to another floor can give you a better escape route.
The only thing you want to avoid is a basement, unless you know for sure there are large enough windows to escape out of down there. Otherwise, this is an absolute last resort.
Public events are likely targets for terrorist and radicals, so decide how important it is to actually attend the event. Look no further than the Boston Marathon attack or the Black Lives Matter March in Dallas as proof of this.
It’s not that you should live in fear, it’s that you should be aware of which situations carry higher risk. Generally, events that are certain to draw a large crowd, particularly on holidays, are often chosen by radicals, whose general plan is to harm and kill as many people as possible.
Be Observant for a Potential Active Shooter
Observation will play a big role in being prepared and giving you enough time to react properly if an active shooter scenario becomes a reality. Does anyone seem tense or sweaty? If they have dilated pupils, seem jumpy, and are breathing heavy, all the more reason to watch them carefully.
Another thing to keep your eye out for is someone who walks into the room and seems to take inventory of who else is there and then suddenly leaves. Were they just looking for someone or are they going out to get their weapon? If you see them head to a vehicle or “stash” area and aggressively head back to the location, it could be go time.
Know Your Best Options When the SHTF
When a gun is pulled, you have several options: run, hide, or fight.
If you are able to get out safely, do so, but move cautiously. Avoid staying too close to walls, as bullets can and will ricochet. You will also need to stay as low as possible, but not entirely to the floor, as bullets will also ricochet along them. Haunch on your toes, with your heels off the floor. You’ll be able to move quickly from this position, and you’ll have as little of you as possible on the floor.
Leaving the building may not be an option and if you are unprepared to fight, you will need to find a hiding place, but this also presents some dangers. In some scenarios, such as a school shooting, the shooter will move from room until the police stop them or they flee the building from the police. If you have to stay in the building, be as creative as possible about your hiding location.
Try to put something thick between you and the entryway. If you feel you have time to barricade the door, do so, but use heaving items that are very thick so bullets cannot pass through and hurt the people in the room.
Make sure your phone is completely silent, NOT on vibrate. Any noise may make the shooter aware of your location, so be as quiet as possible. Text for help and make sure the people you are communicating with are aware of the situation. Also, dim the screen as any alert will light it up, possibly giving away your location.
If you have no choice but to fight, you need to do so aggressively. You must try to incapacitate the shooter as quickly as possible. If you are not armed, look for items you can use for your own defense in the room before you make your move.
Specifically, differentiate from items you can throw at the shooter to both distract and hurt him or her. For instance, smaller items such as rocks, bottles, glasses, and phones are items you can use to distract or hurt the shooter from a distance. An item such as a desk chair can be used for both protection as you move toward the shooter as well as a weapon to use against him or her.
Finally, in this final scenario, continue to yell for help so the police or military can locate you as soon as possible and take control of the situation.