Simplify Your Family's Emergency Preparedness

How to Prepare for an Active Shooter Emergency

people walking around a mall and riding escalators.

**This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

I know this is something we want to forget is a reality, but please do not stick your head in the sand. Being aware of safety precautions will help you and your loved ones prepare for an active shooter situation.



As with most emergency preparedness, you hope you never have to use a lot of it, but you’ll feel much more at ease if you at least know you’ve done your due diligence. This is always time well spent.

Facts about Active Shooter Events

This is not to be confused with a hostage situation. Typically, something like that is well planned out and plays out over a long period of time. When it comes to an active shooter event, here are the key components:


  • Firearms are the weapon
  • No pattern to who they are targeting
  • Unpredictable
  • Evolve quickly – often ending within 10-15 minutes
  • Can happen anywhere

While these events seem to have no rhyme or reason, that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps you can take to be prepared for an active shooter situation and know how to keep yourself safe.

How to prepare BEFORE an active shooter

There is a difference between being in a state of fear and being prepared for an active shooter situation. So while some of these tips and tricks might leave you feeling a bit wary of public spaces, the intent is to help you feel empowered and armed with the knowledge you need to act accordingly.


Tip #1 – Look for exits

Think about it; when you fly on a commercial plane or go to a movie theater, you are always informed about where the exits are located. This safety precaution can be used for so many different situations, including an active shooter. Be aware of doors and windows and figure out how you could best get to them.


Tip #2 – Imagine the scenario

While you don’t need to necessarily role play, it’s a good idea to take in all the details of the space you’re in. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do the doors/windows lock?
  • Do windows have removable screens or breakable glass?
  • What could you use to create a blockade/weapon/etc?
  • Ask yourself ‘What if…?’

Tip #3 – Be prepared to be a helper

One of the best precautions you can take is to get First Aid/CPR certified. If you’re in a situation where you are safe, be ready to give aid to those around you who might not have been so lucky.

I love the online course from Thrive Training Institute! You can read all about this legit CPR course in this blog post.


Tip #4 – Know the plan

Whether you’re at church, school, or work, I bet there’s an emergency response plan already established. Ask to learn about it! And if there isn’t one, help create one.


Tip #5 – Be aware of warning signs

Do you know what to look for in the people around you that might be a red flag? Think about:

  • Severe behavioral changes
  • Negative performance changes
  • Social/Emotional withdrawal or suspicions

Tip #6 – If you SEE something, SAY something

Memorize this phrase from FEMA:

If you see something, say something.

What to do DURING an active shooter situation

#1 – Law Enforcement – They are there to help, but during an emergency it’s important to understand what their priorities are and how you can help them.


#2 – Remember to: RUN. HIDE. FIGHT.

You need to choose the best option for you at any given moment. Whichever option will provide you the best chance to protect your life is the one you should choose.


#3 – Remain Calm

I know this is a common phrase for emergency situations and will be SO hard to do. Hopefully thinking through things ahead of time will help you do so. 



#4 – Lockdown Kit

I wrote a post about things to include in a Classroom Lockdown Kit a while back. Every classroom and office should have one.


What to do AFTER an active shooter event

There are a few very important things that need to be addressed if you’ve had to live through the horror of an active shooter situation.


#1 – Inform Law Officials

This was just mentioned above and is very helpful during the event. But remember, their top priority is to make it stop as quickly as possible. They will need a lot of help piecing together a timeline and other details once the dust has settled. Be prepared to share whatever information you can, to help with the resolution and aftermath.



#2 – Have a Communication Plan

If you’re reviewing this post or helping your family prepare for an active shooter, this would be a good time to review (or create) your Family Emergency Plan. Who and how to communicate with during/after an emergency is a big part of that plan. You can read more about that here.



#3 – Get Help

This is a horrifying experience for anyone. Please please please do not try to recover from it on your own. Seek out the help of a licensed professional – preferably someone who is experienced with helping individuals through trauma. Often, local professionals will offer their services following such an event. Family and friends are great for being a support system, but don’t stop there. You need multiple support pillars.

To Wrap It Up

Like I said at the beginning of this post – not a fun one to think about. But these tips will help you think through the things you can do to help yourself and loved ones prepare for an active shooter event. It’s an unfortunate reality of the world we live in and being prepared is always an advantage in an emergency situation.

Related Posts:

kids with 72 hour kits and food storage on a trail.

How to Prepare Kids for Emergencies

In order to prepare kids for emergencies, you first need to tackle the obvious – disaster anxiety is real! This post addresses that and gives you resources to help teach your kids about preparedness without scaring them.

Read More »
hands holding a sign.

5 simple things you can do to get your family prepared if you don't have thousands of dollars or hundreds of hours


hands holding a sign.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience.