How to protect your children if there is an active shooter

Deadly Shooting At Santa Fe High School In Texas Leaves 10 Dead
Getty Images | Scott Olson

As mass shootings continue to happen around the country, many are wondering how best to stay safe—and how best to keep their loved ones safe in case they’re ever involved in an active shooter situation.

As blogger Rachel Norman at “A Mother Far From Home” reminds us, one of the most important things you can do is have a plan in advance. When you’re panicked, it’s hard to make decisions and then follow them. She posted a reminder to parents to take a moment and establish a plan you can share with your family, maintaining the hope that you’ll never to need to use your plan. Of course, if your children are in school, they’ll likely receive training there as well — and the more training, the better.

“The reason the military and special ops train frequently is because it’s through training and preparation they make the right choices instinctively,” she writes. And the security experts agree.

Always Pay Attention

“Awareness becomes a key facet to the safety of your kids,” Zach Hudson, an active threat expert and CEO of Grantham Systems, a Florida-based security company that educates civilians on threat assessments and security vulnerability, told ABC News.

The Department of Homeland Security advises people to constantly scope out their surroundings: “Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit.”

Have A Code Word

Norman encourages moms and dads to ensure your children know when they need to listen—no questions asked—by instituting a code word for an emergency. It could even be as simple as “emergency,” she says.

Run, Hide, Fight

The FBI promotes three options that you should try, in that order. You should also teach the mantra “run, hide, fight” to your children in case you aren’t with them when an emergency strikes, an expert told Good Housekeeping.

“The idea is to provide basic, easy-to-remember actions in the event that people find themselves in an active shooter incident,” said Caitlin Durkovich, assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at the Department of Homeland Security.

If you’re with your children and you can safely escape, this is the best course of action. Norman encourages parents to prepare for this by determining the best way to wrangle all of your kids at once.

“I have a 4-year-old, 3-year-old, 2-year-old, and an 11-month-old,” she writes. “It would not be easy, but the best way for me to get everyone out of harm’s way quickly is to hold two kids and pull two kids.”

Hiding is the next best option, such as finding an empty room to go inside, locking the door, blocking it with anything you can find, silencing your ringer and vibration mode on your phone, and turning off the lights.

If you can’t run or hide, the adults may have to resort to fighting the attacker. This option should be a last resort, and safety professionals recommend acting with aggression, improvising weapons and committing to your actions in order to incapacitate the attacker.

Learn more about run, hide, fight here:

In The Aftermath, Focus On Recovery

In the aftermath of a traumatic event, it’s important that you and all those affected take time to recover emotionally as well as physically. You and anyone else affected will be working through a lot of intense emotions.

“If it gets in the way of taking your kids to school or getting yourself to work if you’re over involved in all of your activities in life and cannot do anything, it would certainly be appropriate to ask for help,” Carrie Krawiec, a therapist at the Birmingham Maple Clinic in Michigan, told FOX 2 News after the Las Vegas shooting.

Healing, taking care of yourself and seeking out support after such a huge trauma are crucial aspects of safety and self-defense.

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About the Author
Haley Otman
Haley Otman is a news and features writer based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she roots for the University of Michigan Wolverines. A former broadcast news producer, Haley has 10 years of writing experience and has worked in both journalism and public relations.

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