With the threat of a nuclear attack seemingly looming and mass shootings like the horrific scene that’s still unfolding in Las Vegas becoming more and more frequent, national security and personal safety concerns have everyone on edge.
While it’s good to have a set place to meet up with family and friends in the event of a crisis, it’s also crucial to prepare yourself with the knowledge of how to handle a situation properly in the moment. Whether you’re at the office or at the club, it’s important to always be prepared and have a plan of action for times when first response is not a viable option. Here are a few military and FBI approved tips to bear in mind if you are caught in a mass shooting or instance of terrorism.
Creating a Safe Zone and Preparing for Crisis
1) Adopt a “war gaming” mindset. US Air Force Lieutenant, Xavier Jones, advises, “Drop the belief that terrorism and shootings only happen in certain areas, and adopt the mentality that a threat is always present, you just aren’t fully aware of the details.” He recommends that people follow a practice that the Dallas SWAT team implements called “war gaming,” which is more of a lifestyle than a habit. War Gaming involves remaining alert at all times and not becoming complacent or lax in any location or situation; remaining ever aware that crisis can occur at any time. Awareness and mental preparation are crucial, and the first steps toward security.
2) Have a plan. Keep it simple. The plan doesn’t have to be complex; it just has to be effective. It is wise to devise a plan for all areas where you spend a great deal of time i.e., your home, place of work, gym, etc. You should also share these plans with your family so they are equally prepared in case of emergency.
3) Know your exits. In order to draft an escape plan, you need to be aware of all possible escape routes. Take some time to scope out every space that you enter to formulate the best plan(s) of action.
4) Be mindful of your surroundings at all times. If you are waiting until an emergency to assess your environment, then you’re already behind.
5) Implement the practice of “5 and 25.” Know what is going on five feet around you and twenty-five feet around you. If an aggressor is within five feet of you, you are already in a danger zone. If you’re mindful of what’s occurring around you in a 25 feet radius, you can be adequately prepared to make a swift exit in the event of an emergency.
6) Implement pre-emptive counter measures. That’s a fancy way of saying “beat the bad guy before he can strike.” Simple measures such as backing into a parking spot instead of pulling in, can shave precious seconds off of your escape time. Thinking and preparing for moments of crisis can make all the difference.
7) Turn down your music and look up from your phone. Texting, social media and that addicting game can wait. You cannot be fully conscious of your surroundings visually or acoustically if you are distracted by other stimuli.
The 5 C’s of Preparation and Survival
Lt. Jones suggests five things that you can and should keep on your person or in your car at all times to ensure your safety and survival in dire circumstances:
- Cutting: Always have a knife or multi tool that will allow you to defend yourself or cut away from/at materials or surfaces.
- Container: Carry a bottle or canteen for water to maintain hydration.
- Combustion: Having matches or a lighter on hand can come in handy in a number of situations—setting off an alarm in times of crisis and of course, starting fires when necessary.
- Cordage: While a rope can always come in handy, Jones recommends 550 Paracord, a lightweight nylon rope used by military, civilians and astronauts in suspension cords that can be bought in bulk and found in shoelaces.
- Cover: Having some form of shelter, whether it is in the form of a coat, an abandoned building or a large piece of furniture to shield yourself from harm.
What to Do In Event of an Emergency or Mass Shooting
Run, Hide, Fight. The Federal Bureau of Investigations recommends that you do the following in the event of a crisis:
- RUN. If you have the opportunity to escape and evacuate, take it. Leave your belongings and get yourself to safety. If possible, lead others to follow you, but do not linger if they are unwilling to do so. Time is of the essence.
- Evacuate whether others agree to or not.
- Help others escape if possible.
- Prevent others from entering the area.
- Call 9-1-1.
- HIDE. If there aren’t any safe escape routes, find a hiding place that is: out of the shooter’s view, provides protection from fire and doesn’t restrict your movement.
- Silence and dim the light on your cell phone.
- Turn off the lights in the area, if possible.
- If you find a safe room or closet, lock the door or conceal yourself behind large objects for protection.
- FIGHT. If running and hiding are not an option, then and only then should you become aggressive toward the shooter.
- Act with physical aggression and attempt to disable the shooter.
- Improvise weapons.
- Commit to your actions. Hesitating or cowering in fear could mean the difference between life and death.
For more tips from the FBI check out their website.