Building owners and business owners have to prepare, in advance, for all types of emergencies. In today’s world, preparing for an active shooter incident is a reality. Some of our clients are starting to implement very clear protocols for active shooter building incidents and adopting new design and technology features in order to prepare for this type of event. It’s important to familiarize yourself and your employees with active shooter building precautions, especially because some of the safety tips are counter-intuitive.
Action guidelines commonly follow “run, hide, fight” sequence.
Run– If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:
- Have a clear escape route in mind
- Evacuate regardless of whether others agree or not
- Leave your belongings behind
- Help others, if possible
- Call 911 when you are safe
- Prevent others from entering the area
Hide– Sometimes referred to as “shelter-in-place,” it is recommended that if evacuation is not possible look for a hiding spot that can provide protection if shots are fired. Your hiding spot shouldn’t restrict your options for movement. Once hidden, lock and/or blockade the door and silence cell phones.
Some buildings are establishing designated safety zones. Employees are directed to hide in the bathrooms and lock the door. Peep holes are being installed in the interior of bathroom doors so that employees know it is safe to exit when they see a law enforcement agent confirm that the area has been secured. Alternatively, elevator lobbies are safety zones in some building. In the event of an active shooter, elevators are typically locked down and do not offer an escape route for the shooter. The shooter tends to use the stairs to move about.
Fight– As a last resort and upon imminent danger, there are instructions to protect yourself and attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:
- Throwing items and improvising weapons
- Yelling and acting with physical aggression
- Committing to your actions
Interestingly, during and active shooter incident, pulling the fire alarm is one of the worst things you can do. The alarm provides an audio cover for the shooter and drives unknowing employees and visitors into known evacuation routes, possibly in the shooter’s path.
When it comes to employee and building safety, you can never be too prepared or too cautious. Preparing for this type of event is a responsibility that business owners are elevating in significance.