There is nothing worse than having to live your life in fear. Unfortunately, due to recent mass shootings in the United States, more and more people are having to start thinking about the "what ifs" in certain situations, as these "what if" scenarios sadly become reality. For parents, there is nothing worse than feeling like you or your child are not safe in situations like the one that struck an LGBT nightclub in Orlando over the weekend. Luckily, there are ways to protect your child during active shooter situations, even if you're not specially trained.
There have been 133 mass shootings in the United States thus far in 2016. This is a very scary statistic that should be taken pretty seriously. While you can never predict when a mass shooting will occur — seems quite impossible to prevent, there are a few things you can do if you or your child ever find yourselves in a situation where there is an active shooter. Most importantly, you can educate your child on what to do if they're ever alone or at school during an active shooter situation.
According to ABC News, the first thing you should do is run and take others with you. While your first instinct might be to stop and hide, 20-year law enforcement veteran John Bruner suggests running and getting other people out, like your child, with you in the process. If running isn't an option, Bruner suggests hiding and barricading yourself and your child behind objects and keeping as quiet as possible. (Yes, that means silencing your cell phone.)
"The first five seconds of an active shooter situation are paramount," Bruner said. "React immediately."
Luckily, for your peace of mind, most schools have active shooter or intruder drills in place where students are coached on, and practice, what to do if there is ever an active shooter in their school. This could either mean students practice sitting in a darkened classroom and remaining silent or staging a realistic scenario. Whatever the case may be, rest assured your child's school has thought of a plan when it comes to an active shooter on campus.
But what about the situations beyond your control? While many experts haven't weighed in on what kids alone can do to stop a mass shooting, there are a few simple steps that all people can follow. The Department of Homeland advises to follow the "run, hide, fight" model.
The run, hide, fight concept is what Bruner, as well as many other law enforcement officials advise to do when faced with a shooter. First, teach your child to try and run away from the shooter. If that is no longer an option, then tell them to hide behind something that will make it difficult for bullets to reach them. It is imperative to remain silent, as Bruner advises to silence their cellphone, if they're old enough to have one. If all else fails, tell them to use fighting as a last resort, in an attempt to ward off the shooter in any way possible, from every direction. It is incredibly important that your child listens to your commands from any authorities or grown ups who are trying to keep people safe, every step of the way. That will, with any luck, keep them focused even when danger is near.
Almost all professionals will suggest developing a plan with your children on what to do in an active shooting scenario and sticking with it. This involves developing a code word with your child or locating all exit signs when you enter an establishment. While it might sound a little crazy, if you and your child know where emergency exits are on an airplane and in movie theaters, it could potentially save your lives.
Developing a plan and practicing it with your child can reduce the fear parents might have when it comes to encountering an active shooter situation. While (for the time being) we can't seem to stop the shootings from happening, parents can at least prevent themselves and their children from falling further into danger.