It’s a sad but true reality – active shootings. While we can debate how we got to this place, what’s most helpful right now is learning how you can be prepared to save you and your family’s life.
Imagine you’re out at the mall, department store, or park. You’re going about your day and checking off lists, watching your kids play or enjoying time in a movie. Suddenly you hear what sounds like firecrackers but followed by screaming and panic. Your reality just changed. You’re in an active shooter situation.
What do you do next?
Three options for dealing with an active shooter situation:
Try to escape the area as quickly as possible. When you go into an area, be aware of at least two exit routes and have an escape plan in mind.
Be committed to escaping regardless if others refuse to get out
Help others escape if possible
Keep your hands up and visible if you encounter law enforcement
Call 911 when you are in a safe area
If you can’t escape, find a location where the active shooter is less likely to find you
Your hiding place should be out of view
Provide protection from gunfire if possible (brick, concrete, cinder block wall)
Use an office or room with a locked door. Use heavy furniture or office equipment to block the door.
If the active shooter is nearby,
Turn off the lights
Silence your cell phone or any other source of noise (TV, radio, etc.)
If possible, call 911 and alert the dispatcher where the shooter’s location is. If you cannot talk, leave the line open to allow the dispatcher to listen.
Remember, you may have to hide for hours until law enforcement secures the threat.
As a last resort, only fight when you cannot hide and your life and/or your family are in imminent danger.
Act as aggressively as possible and fully commit to your actions
Improvise weapons using items around you (fire extinguishers, chairs, etc.)
Law enforcement that arrives first on the scene have the primary job of eliminating the threat, it is unfortunately not to render help. They must stay focused on the situation and work to end the threat as soon as possible.
Help will come as more first responders arrive. It’s an unfortunate reality that we are faced with these situations but being aware of your surroundings and having a plan of action will help you survive. Take a look at this video made by the City of Houston, TX that reviews that same 3 tips for active shooter survival.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could keep our kids inside this bubble where we know they can never get themselves injured or hurt in any way? Or even if we could make sure that we’ll always be by their side to protect them from all the dangers in the world.
It’s simply not possible. Kids will be kids and your best bet is to teach them how to look out for their own safety and implement some strategies for handling different situations in and outside of the home.
Let’s cover some in home safety tips to consider:
This first one is an easy one but very challenging for young kids to adhere to. Teach them to never open the door for anyone unless they have been instructed to do so. We get it, when someone rings the door, they get super excited and automatically run to see who is there and we don’t want them opening the door to a potentially dangerous person
Have your kids memorize your phone numbers and their home address. Once in awhile, have them repeat it so that it stays fresh in their minds
Teach them how and when to call 911. Or if they can’t call, run to the neighbors house for help. Run through some scenarios and have them tell you what they should do.
Have a list of emergency contact numbers
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Have a smoke detector in every room. Most new detectors these days will beep at you when the batteries are dying to alert you to change them out.
Have a carbon monoxide detector in living and bedroom spaces. Carbon monoxide gas is colorless and odorless so without these in place, it will not be detected.
Cover your unused electrical outlets. Even better is if you install the outlets with the safety features already built into it, that way you don’t need to worry about the kids prying them off or it getting taken out and misplaced.
Keep medicine and cleaning agents locked up or out of reach.
Talk to your kids about Internet Safety:
Teach them never give out personal information to anyone online
Put time restrictions on their usage
Have computers be located anywhere but inside their room
Track their history to see where they have visited
Have regular discussions on what is appropriate and what is not for them to interact with
Restrict which sites they can visit by setting this in the parental controls
Take some time out to discuss, map out and role play an emergency home evacuation plan
Decide on a central location to meet outside of the house
Practice what to do in case of a fire
If they can evacuate, crawl or stay low to see under the smoke
If they are trapped, stuff a towel under the door open a window and yell for help
Do not hide in a closet or under the bed. Hiding makes it harder for the firefighters to find you in smoky conditions
Use escape ladders if you have a multiple story house. There should be one in every bedroom. Make sure to familiarize yourself on how to use it.
Have emergency food and supplies on hand
Image by philipbase via Pixabay
Now let’s start with some outside of the home safety tips:
Theme park (or any crowded event) nightmare: You lose your kid in the crowd! Teach them to stay calm, stay put and flag down someone who works there. Emphasize with them that you will make your way back to find them and staying put will make that easier to do.
Or if you’re like a friend of mine who goes to Disneyland on a regular basis, before they start their day of adventures, they remind their kids of their special meeting spot (one for each park) to go to if any of them were to ever be separated.
When you’re out on vacation, don’t post pictures or videos on social media. This will just create opportunities to have your home burglarized
Teach them to be aware of their surroundings at all times. Know to look for cars coming. Know when it’s safe to cross the streets. Teach them not to run in parking lots. And of course, constantly remind them not to talk or go with any strangers under any circumstances.
If you found any of this information to be helpful, please share with a fellow parent.