BY Farida Dawkins, 7:04am February 15, 2018,

10 most important actions to take when you hear gunshots

A man aims a semi automatic pistol. Selectively focused on the front of the gun. grey background (Stock photo)

There have been 18 school shootings in the United States only six weeks into 2018. The numbers are extremely alarming as just yesterday, there were 17 fatalities when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire at his former high school in Florida. 

These unfortunate incidents occur without warning and you need to know how to handle them. Flight or fright? Here are some actions to take if you ever find yourself in a situation where you hear gunshots.

10 most important actions to take when you hear gunshots

Run, hide, fight diagram…photo courtesy: Maryland GovernmentDevelop an evacuation plan

Make sure there are clearly indicated exits and shelter points.  Keep in mind how to assist those with limited mobility or disabilities; there should also be a designated person or persons to direct others out of danger.  Once these are set in place, run through them by conducting an exercise.

Assign key personnel to assist in an emergency

There should be essential personnel who will help others exit the danger zone if need be. Those to tend to the hurt, and those who can keep others out of harm’s way.  Identify these individuals and have them rehearse their roles, so they are prepared if they should ever need to demonstrate their skills.


Designate an area where people can hide and barricade themselves from gunfire.  It should be a “panic room” of sorts.

Designate an escape route

A safe area that is accessible to key people and is clean, neat, and can house a good amount of people.  It should also be a place that can be locked or accessibility isn’t easy from an outsider or stranger.

Lock the area down

There shouldn’t be an influx of people in and out of the area where there is shooting. When the area is locked down, key persons are better able to identify victims and the perpetrator(s).

Have a PA system and code words

When the shooting starts, it isn’t the appropriate time to scream demands.  Have available a system in which a mass amount of people can be directed via a public announcement system and use wording that everyone will recognize in the case of an attack. Also, put in place a system where mass text messages can be sent out to notify all parties involved.

Inform local law enforcement/hospitals

Police officers, law enforcement, and medical attendants should be made aware of any emergency that arises. Establish appropriate responses that can be identifiable to officers such as waving in a non-threatening manner.

Establish access control measures

Security officers should be in place to guard others, employees, or important persons who belong in the area. Everyone should be identifiable with an ID or similar material, and imperative staff members are to have access to certain areas with passcodes or keys that aren’t readily accessible to just anyone.

Maps/floor plans

Have available removable maps and floor plans that can be used to direct others in need of assistance and to identify key areas to avoid and to converge at.

Keep a list

Identify potential troublemakers, disgruntled employees, or people with histories of erratic, strange, or menacing behavior.

This collection of tips isn’t all inclusive, nonetheless, it can become the initial steps in keeping you and your loved ones safe.

Below is a video on how to react in a face to face active shooter incident:

Last Edited by:Ismail Akwei Updated: February 15, 2018


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