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.
If you’re like a lot of us out there, you probably feel like your entire life is tied up inside of your purse. On some days, it may feel like you are carrying Mary Poppins carpet bag of nanny goodies, able to open up your purse and pull out a wallet, checkbook, umbrella, diapers, and wipes along with the unimaginable and unrealistic like a case of water, an emergency kit, and a the ark of the covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
But, if you’ve ever had your purse lost or stolen, then you know that it can be a nightmare of epic proportions. So, here are some of the things I am definitely not carrying in my purse anymore:
Extra credit cards
There was a time when I used to have every major department store and credit card on me at all times, just in case I needed to fly into action and do some emergency shopping at the local Macy’s. This isn’t necessary.
Instead, keep just one credit card and your debit card on hand and leave the rest at home.
Think about if you do lose multiple cards to a thief, then you have to cancel all those accounts which can be a major pain. Many people are getting the “phone wallets” that give them a cardholder on their cell phone. This can be a great idea since most of us keep our phones on us at all times and usually in our hip pockets, which make them much harder to steal than the average purse snatching.
This absolutely has to stay at home from now on. If you think about it, most of us only use checks now when we are mailing in bills. (And some of us not even then.) Everywhere you go now takes plastic, so leave the checkbook at home.
My former self-defense instructor (a retired cop) pointed out that your checkbook has your home address on it which not only makes you easier to track down, but it can also be used to order more checks and destroy your credit rating and bank account.
Again, why take the risk when you carry your debit card? If your card is stolen, you can shut it down before it is used. But if your cash is stolen, that’s it; it’s gone.
It’s also a good idea not to carry cash or limit the amount you have with you because (as many people will point out) if you carry cash, then you are more likely to spend it. When you pass by a soda machine or snack machine, you may think to yourself, “Oh yeah, I’ve got some money” and then you spend it. But if you don’t have it, then you can’t spend it on things you don’t need.
Quick tip to help in case your purse is lost or stolen.
Before you leave the house next time, take a picture of the front and back of your credit cards. This will give you the information you need to call the right number quickly to report the card stolen and to have the credit card number handy. You can write this information as well, if you prefer.
Can you afford to lose your purse?
The important thing to decide when you are packing your purse is this: “If someone were to steal my purse or if I should lose it, how dangerous or problematic would it be for me to no longer have these items?” And for many of us, our purses have become such a “catch-all” for junk that we might not even know what was in there if it did go missing. It’s better to play it safe and keep it simple.
Children are natural-born explorers. They love going out on their own so they can experience the world and have adventures.
But, many parents are faced with the nightmare of what happens when your child wanders off and gets lost. It’s a scary situation that no parent wants to think about, but you do need a plan in place if it happens.
Here are things you can do to prevent your child getting lost:
First, realize your child can wander off and get lost almost anywhere at any time, so you need to be prepared and proactive. Have a conversation early on with your child about what to do if they get lost.
Make it a game for your child to memorize your cell phone number. Give them a copy of the number as they may not be thinking clearly if they’re panicked. This can be on an ID bracelet or a personalized “dog tag” they carry with them.
What To Do If Your Child Gets Lost:
Dress your child in bright clothes
If a child is lost and they’re wearing something bold, they’re much be easier to spot. Take a picture of your child before you go out to the park or the mall so you’ll have a picture of exactly what they look like. This way, if he or she gets lost, you can share this photo easily with security guards who can be on the lookout for them.
Designate a meeting spot
If you’re going someplace that’s especially crowded, like a theme park or shopping mall, explain to your child that they should look for you at a designated spot. This should be someplace easy to find like the main entrance or at a specific ride or store.
That way, if they get lost, they can find you quickly and easily. If you don’t have a designated meeting spot, tell them, instead, to not move at all. Explain that once you realize they’re missing, you’ll instantly start looking for them. If they’re looking for you while you look for them, you could end up chasing each other for hours. If they stay in one place, they’ll be easier to find.
This sounds impossible, but no good is going to come from being frantic and terrified. Try to keep a level head so you can rationally search for your child.
Teach your child about “safe people.”
If you aren’t there within a few minutes, have your child let an adult know that they’re lost. Have them look for a security guard or a store employee with a name tag. These people can do a better job of helping to reunite you with your child than the average person off the street.
Imagine walking through the mall with your child only to turn around and not see them there. Terrifying, right? By preparing ahead of time, you and your children know what to do in this event and you’ll quickly reunited!
Just recently in the news, a woman was forced into the back of her car by gunpoint after shopping at Walmart.
Thank goodness she didn’t have any kids with her and she was later released.
Could this have been prevented? I believe so and I’ll explain.
As awesome as it would be for every mom to know some self defense skill to not just protect themselves but their kids too, it’s just not realistic.
I’ve taken a street tactical self defense class in the past and some of the moves I learned were amazing, but unless you lived and breathed it, it’s very difficult to be proficient at it.
And with two kids with multiple after school activities to juggle, and my firefighter hubby’s inconsistent work schedule…it was just too much of a stretch to maintain it.
One thing for sure though…
There were many eye opening and ah ha moments that I learned from it.
So the instructor that I had was an ex-military, ex-policeman/undercover agent.
Pretty impressive right?
He had so many crazy stories of things that people do.
The Man Hiding Underneath Your Car
One story in particular that I still remember until this day is a case where someone was hiding and waiting underneath a person’s car with a knife.
He’ll wait for the perfect moment to then cut the back of your lower calf area (aka your Achilles Tendon) to cripple you so that you cannot run away.
That person has now fallen to the ground and the guy gets out from underneath and throws you into the back of the trunk. Next thing you know, you wake up in a different country and you have been sold to be a sex slave.
Unbelievable, dumbfounded, shocked, outraged, astonished, speechless…everything I felt when I heard that.
It’s a scary world we live in.
So next time you come back to your car, take a peek underneath JUST to be on the safe side.
Here’s another one..
Groceries or Kids First
When you go grocery shopping, chances are when you’re done, you are pushing your cart full of groceries with your kids as well.
So upon reaching your car, what do you do first? Put your purse and kids inside the car so that you can put away the groceries away quicker and your kids are out of the parking streets? Or put your groceries away first?
For those of you who say you put your purse into the car first, you might want to reconsider, ESPECIALLY if you are also having your kids get into the car too.
Apparently, there was a case where a mom put her purse and kids into the car and then proceeded to put her groceries away in her trunk. Someone stormed into her car and drove away, with her purse and kids inside of the car!
Sounds so far fetched right? I still cannot believe someone would do something like that
But then again, I cannot explain many of the crazies that goes on in this world.
So if it is not realistic for moms to take the time out to learn physical self defense skills, then all that we can do to protect ourselves and our kids is make sure we do everything in our power to PREVENT it.
My biggest take away that was drilled into us over and over again is to…
No matter where you are at and especially if you are in a parking lot at the store or mall at night time, always keep your eyes peeled for any suspicious activity or people who may be walking towards you.
In the example of the woman I mentioned earlier, it was stated in the article that she spotted a man crouching alongside the car next to hers.
Hindsight is 20/20 but that activity does seem slightly suspicious doesn’t it? If she had any gut instinct that it was kind of weird, then following it by going back towards the store could have saved her from that attack.
With the holidays right around the corner and more people shopping, it is vital that we stay vigilant and aware of our surroundings.
10 Tips That Can Make All The Difference
Get into the habit of walking around your car before getting in so that you aren’t surprised by any lurkers.
Get into the habit of locking your doors as soon as you get inside of your car.
Don’t wear a backpack purse to go shopping, especially now during the shopping season. And if you do, move it to the front. It’s much easier for someone to grab your bag from behind when you least expect it.
On a similar note, don’t carry around a checkbook because if that gets stolen, your home address will be known and that may bring forth unwanted visitors.
If you go to a club or bar, don’t leave your drink. If you do, go buy another one. Apparently, this is a common tactic for pimp sex traffickers to capture their next victim.
Don’t unlock all the car doors when pumping gas. Thieves have been known to open the passenger side door and take your purse in the front seat without you even knowing.
If you’re up to it, watch the TV series Forensic Files. Criminals have confessed/bragged about being able to be a copycat of the cases that gets portrayed on there. It’s not to get you paranoid but to help you be informed of what’s possible.
Stay aware. Scan your surroundings as you walk to your car. The moms more likely to get attacked are the ones distracted by their kids, are on their phone or are juggling too many bags in her hands.
Be aware of vans that are parked next to you. It’s easy for perpetrators to slide open their door and grab you or your kids without anyone even noticing.
Last but not least, trust your motherly instincts. If something feels off or not right about the situation, remove yourself and your kids from it.
These are just a few things that have been shared with me as well as from what I have learned over the years and I hope they are also useful for you to know.
The best form of protection is always going to be prevention.
Your chances of becoming a victim is lessened if the perpetrators can see and sense that you will catch on to them before they can get to you and the only way for that to occur is for you to…
Be and stay AWARE at all times.
If you found any of this information helpful, please share it. The more we can help to spread this message, the more empowered us moms can be to keep ourselves and our kids safe.