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6 Things to Know for an Active Shooting

The right time to talk about emergency plans with your students is now! Here's how they can stay safe during an active shooter situation.

There’s never an ideal time to put safety plans into action for your family, but safety is crucial at all times, so now is as good a time as ever. Safety includes having a plan of action (POA) in the case of a house fire or natural disaster, sure…but have you prioritized talking to your kids about active shooters? 

When speaking with students about threats to their safety, it’s important to let them know that these are rare and low-probability events, but it’s essential to be prepared if they ever find themselves in that kind of scary situation at school or elsewhere. Here are some of the most important points to hit to effectively educate your students on active shooting situations. 

Related: Top Campus Safety Tips

1. If possible, get away

The most critical thing for your teen to know is that moving away from a crisis is the best thing to do. Don’t remain in a public building if there are exits nearby and they can safely get out. Tell them to get away from the potential threat and keep moving.

2. If you can’t get out of the building, find a secure place

Hiding under a table or lying down in the open isn’t a good strategy. Make sure they know how to look for a room or enclosed space to secure themselves from the shooter.

3. In a mass casualty event, the police are there to engage the shooter

In other words, they shouldn’t follow the police. Tell them to look for another trusted individual who can help. 

4. Stay off your phone until you’re safe

In school shootings, we’ve seen and heard stories about students getting on their phones to call or text their parents. When an adult or teacher is trying to give safety instructions, students should be focusing all their attention on them. Encourage your teen to stay off their phone until they are 100% physically safe. (Parents also shouldn’t attempt to contact their children if they hear about the situation, as the phone might ring loudly during the crisis; wait until your student can safely contact you.)

Related: 6 Ways to Stay Safe on Your Way to Night Classes

5. Report all jokes, comments, or threats about harming others to an adult

Too often shooters or individuals contemplating suicide inform others of their intentions prior to committing an atrocity, but the threats aren’t taken seriously. As a result, kids should be aware and always report statements implying violence to an adult who will take them seriously. 

6. Look out for emergency exits in any location before a crisis occurs

Whether it’s a school, church, movie theater, or other public venue, reiterate the importance of knowing how to seek out their exit options in the event of an emergency. 

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About Douglas Parisi

Douglas Parisi

Douglas B. Parisi, MPA is the Director of Training for SafeDefend. He’s a former police captain with over 20 years of service, including personal experience with active shooter situations. With almost four years of experience as a police academy c­ommander, he’s obtained extensive training on site security, active shooter response, and civilian response to hostile events.

Douglas is a regular speaker at national conferences and seminars, presenting at SRO, DARE, Human Resource, school board, superintendent, public safety, sheriff’s association, and other conferences across the Midwest. He participates in campus safety webinars and conducts interviews with media sources on workplace and campus safety concerns. Douglas also works with schools, businesses, and government institutions on policy implementation, crisis response planning, and threat mitigation.


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