It’s a sad but true reality – active shootings. While we can debate how we got to this place, what’s most helpful right now is learning how you can be prepared to save you and your family’s life.
Imagine you’re out at the mall, department store, or park. You’re going about your day and checking off lists, watching your kids play or enjoying time in a movie. Suddenly you hear what sounds like firecrackers but followed by screaming and panic. Your reality just changed. You’re in an active shooter situation.
What do you do next?
Three options for dealing with an active shooter situation:
Try to escape the area as quickly as possible. When you go into an area, be aware of at least two exit routes and have an escape plan in mind.
Be committed to escaping regardless if others refuse to get out
Help others escape if possible
Keep your hands up and visible if you encounter law enforcement
Call 911 when you are in a safe area
If you can’t escape, find a location where the active shooter is less likely to find you
Your hiding place should be out of view
Provide protection from gunfire if possible (brick, concrete, cinder block wall)
Use an office or room with a locked door. Use heavy furniture or office equipment to block the door.
If the active shooter is nearby,
Turn off the lights
Silence your cell phone or any other source of noise (TV, radio, etc.)
If possible, call 911 and alert the dispatcher where the shooter’s location is. If you cannot talk, leave the line open to allow the dispatcher to listen.
Remember, you may have to hide for hours until law enforcement secures the threat.
As a last resort, only fight when you cannot hide and your life and/or your family are in imminent danger.
Act as aggressively as possible and fully commit to your actions
Improvise weapons using items around you (fire extinguishers, chairs, etc.)
Law enforcement that arrives first on the scene have the primary job of eliminating the threat, it is unfortunately not to render help. They must stay focused on the situation and work to end the threat as soon as possible.
Help will come as more first responders arrive. It’s an unfortunate reality that we are faced with these situations but being aware of your surroundings and having a plan of action will help you survive. Take a look at this video made by the City of Houston, TX that reviews that same 3 tips for active shooter survival.
Supervision is key for young children and certain foods
When you’re feeding a small child, it’s important to supervise them. Don’t allow your toddler to walk around and eat. They should be seated and paying attention to what they’re doing. (A little kid can’t multi-task, so walking and eating at the same time can be dangerous – and messy!)
The real danger is that it only takes four minutes for a child to die from choking and even less time for permanent brain damage to set in. Be really cautious during these first years even while you are in the front seat driving, your child could be choking in the back seat.
What should I do if my child begins choking?
As hard as this may sound, stay calm. Freaking out takes away precious time and can keep you from focusing on the necessary steps to take.
Call 911 immediately and tell them that you have a choking child. Even if you dislodge the food, they can still come take a look at your child to make sure they are OK.
Be prepared by taking a CPR class with your local Red Cross or health organization. This will teach you the proper way to do the Heimlich maneuver on an infant or young child.
Choking is not something to play around with. Pay special attention to the types of foods your child eats and if you have any concerns, skip it and feed them something else. You can also be sure to help them with their digestion by cutting food into very small pieces for easy chewing.