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Know how to respond to an active shooter

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An active shooter situation is a scenario many people don’t want to think about – but it’s important to be prepared. The Department of Homeland Security notes that active shooter situations evolve quickly. Although an active shooter situation is rare in the workplace, it happens. In 2014, 674 homicides and suicides occurred on the job, according the 2017 edition of “Injury Facts,” a National Safety Council chartbook.

Time is of the essence

Every moment counts when near an active shooter. “Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation,” DHS states. The department advises being prepared to take three courses of action:

  • Run. If you see someone with a gun or hear gunfire, run away as fast as possible if you have an accessible escape path – even if others around you don’t want to follow. However, help others escape if you can. Leave all belongings behind. If law enforcement is on the scene when you get away, keep your hands visible above your head and follow instructions. Don’t stop to move wounded victims.
  • Hide. If you can’t escape, find a place where the shooter is unlikely to find you. Find a room with a door and lock it. If it doesn’t have a lock, barricade heavy furniture against the door. Silence all electronics and do your best to remain calm and quiet. Hide behind large items.
  • Fight. DHS recommends confronting the shooter, but only as a last resort when you believe your life is in imminent danger. Act aggressively and throw items at the shooter or use an improvised weapon.

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