Mass shootings, though statistically rare, have become a frighteningly common occurrence in the news. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines a mass shooting as an incident involving multiple victims of firearm-related violence. The United States, in particular, has seen a significant number of these incidents, with the Gun Violence Archive reporting there are over 400 mass shootings this year alone.
In the face of such senseless violence, it is understandable for people to feel anxious and scared. Learning how to protect yourself in a mass shooting situation can help alleviate some of that fear.
Understanding the Reality of Mass Shootings
The first step to learning how to protect yourself in a mass shooting is understanding the reality of these types of events. Mass shootings occur at unpredictable times and places, meaning it is impossible to be prepared for every situation. No matter your level of preparedness, it is important to keep in mind that the most important thing you can do is remain calm.
Know Your Surroundings
In any public place, it is always important to be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to who is around you and where the exits are located- this will give you a better chance of getting away from danger quickly if the need arises. Additionally, try to make yourself as small of a target as possible. This means keeping your back to the wall and avoiding large crowds.
Create an Emergency Action Plan
Creating an emergency action plan for yourself is a great way to help stay safe in a mass shooting situation. First, identify a safe place to go, such as a secure room or an emergency exit. This should be somewhere that will provide cover for any potential shooter.
Next, map out the route to your safe place and practice it with family or friends to ensure you know exactly what you need to do in case of an emergency. The plan should also include a way for you to communicate with those around you, such as signaling or text messaging.
Another important part of your emergency action plan is bringing items that can help protect you. A personal protection bag can have items like a first-aid kit, emergency lighting, and defensive tools such as pepper spray or mace.
Lastly, establish a communication plan with friends and family in case of an emergency. This will ensure that you can reach out for help and stay updated on the situation.
Engage in Active Shooter Drills
One of the most effective ways to prepare for a mass shooting is by engaging in active shooter drills. During these drills, you can practice different scenarios and get accustomed to responding quickly in an emergency. Additionally, teach those around you how to recognize signs of danger and how best to respond if needed.
Taking Care of Your Mental Health
It is important to remember that your mental health should always be considered when preparing for a mass shooting. Facing fear can be an emotionally draining experience, and it is essential to take care of yourself by seeking professional help if needed.
Aside from professional help, there are several other ways to take care of your mental health. Make sure you are engaging in self-care practices such as getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, and exercising regularly. Additionally, it is important to take time away from the news when needed and try to connect with friends and family for support.
Now that you know how to protect yourself in a mass shooting situation, it is important to remember that the best way to stay safe is by remaining vigilant and aware. Keeping an open dialogue with friends and family about safety can ensure that everyone knows what to do if needed. Remember: when facing fear, knowledge is power.