How to Keep Yourself Safe in a Mass Shooting

Image by Thank you, my friends, Adam! is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

As time changes and as our country heads down a darker road, the number of mass shootings has only grown. Already this year, our country has witnessed over 300 mass shootings, according to the Washington Post. That’s 300 shootings in about 180 days. In order for a shooting to be counted in these numbers, at least four people have to be injured or killed, not including the shooter. 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) urges people to follow these five steps when coping with an active shooter:

1. “Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers.”

2. “Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit.”

3. “If you are in an office, stay there and secure the door.”

4. “If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door.”

5. “As a last resort, attempt to take the active shooter down. When the shooter is at close range and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate him/her.”

And as soon as you can, CALL 911!

As the chances of being present in the midst of a mass shooting increase, The Watchdog has decided to compile a list of ways you can stay safe if caught in the unthinkable situation.

According to an ABC News article about staying safe in a mass shooting, “the federal guidance for active shooter situations… is to ‘run, hide, fight.’” This cross-checks the DHS article for further reassurance. 

So here’s what you need to remember: RUN, HIDE, FIGHT. This is the recommended plan for when an active shooter is present. 

1. RUN 

The first thing you should do if there is an active shooter is to try to evacuate. Think of a quick evacuation plan, and make sure that your hands are visible as you do so; you don’t want a bystander or law enforcement to think that you are the shooter. Don’t try to move a wounded person and help others evacuate if you can. 


If you aren’t able to evacuate, you need to hide! Find a spot that can protect you if shots are fired in your direction. For example, hiding in a locked office and blockading the door with furniture. Make sure you are quiet and remain out of the shooter’s view. 


Lastly, if you are unable to evacuate or hide, take action. This should be a last resort when danger seems imminent. Do whatever you can to harm and disorient the shooter. Throw things, hit, yell, etc.

If you know of any threats of gun violence or know someone experiencing a mental health crisis that could expand into violent behaviors, speak up and report the threats to the police by calling 911 if it’s an emergency or call 206-296-3311 to make an incident report to the King County sheriff.