How to Survive a Mass Shooting: Dos & Don'ts

AllsWell Team

Table of contents: 

Sad but true – Americans witness hundreds of mass shooting episodes every year. Less than three weeks ago, an appalling mass homicide staggered the nation. The deadliest school shooting episode in the history of Texas occurred in Uvalde, causing 21 deaths. As terrible as this tragedy was, it became only the next in a row among less-publicized cases of 2022.

It is an ugly reality we can't escape from. Doubtlessly, the harrowing news reports distress and even devastate at times, but they can also become lessons learned. Nowadays, police and FBI experts spread and update vitally important tutorials on how to survive a mass shooting to raise nationwide awareness.

We have used their recommendations to create this guide and help you stay safe in a mass shooting.

How High is USA Mass Shooting Rate

By June 7, 2022, there had been 254 mass shootings across the country reported by Gun Violence Archive. If this pace continues, 2022 can surpass 2021 in the total number of mass shootings by the time it ends.

The geography of mass shootings and the annual number of casualties significantly fluctuate yearly. So it's hard to link rises and falls in their frequency to social, economic, or political context. In a rough estimate, it is correct to say that around 40 people have been annually gunned down dead by mass shooters for the last decade.

Despite the stereotyped conception of mass shootings occurring in public places (schools, malls, concert halls, places of worship), the truth is that most of these brutal assaults happen in private homes. The twelve-year overview by Everytown Fund reveals that 61% of mass killings happened in residences. Nearly half of these episodes had a history of abuse or domestic violence. It is another reason communities should stand up for women's safety and not neglect signs of child abuse.

7 Things You Shouldn't Do in Mass Shootings in Public Places

First, we want you to know tactics that can restrain you from fatal mistakes. Knowing how to survive a shooting means recognizing life-threatening situations and responding adequately. Here's what you shouldn't do to stay safe in a mass shooting.

  1. Don't ignore anything suspicious. Carelessness to disturbing and unordinary behavior often leads to tragic consequences. Accustom yourselves and your kids to notice and report any suspicious activity. Spotting a risk can give you time to get away and save your life.

  2. Don't waste precious time. Every second that allows you to flee from the dangerous site is priceless. So leave your belongings, grab the attention of people next to you, and run away together. Don't rule second-story windows out as an evacuation option if you cannot escape through doors.

  3. Don't set off the fire alarm. Even though it seems the right way to alert others and make them instantly leave, it's a rather bad idea. Firstly, the siren completely drowns out the rest of the sounds, and you won't hear the gunman approaching. Secondly, the people will take the usual evacuation routes, which the shooter might already control.

  4. Don't disclose where you're once you've hidden. Switch your mobile phone and other gadgets to silent mode. However tempting the idea of phoning 911 or reaching your family could be, it's not always safe. Instead, try sending SOS messages to emergency numbers using your phone or personal safety device like a keychain alarm.

  5. Don't try to reason with the shooter or plead for your life. The chances of convincing the shooter to lay down their arms are slim. Instead, you should concentrate on the possibility of sneaking past armed people or lashing out at them unexpectedly.

  6. Don't hesitate if you've decided to disarm the attacker. That's the golden rule for mass shooting self-defense. Remember, you can walk away from a clash with the shooter safely only after you disarm and neutralize them completely. So attack them with all your might and aim to cause maximum pain.

  7. Don't run towards the law officer once you're outdoors. The outside police squad might not have a description of the shooter, so they can consider you hostile and open fire. Approach the officers with your hand high and palms open so they know you're no threat.

Things You Must Do To Stay Safe In a Mass Shooting

The 'Run-Hide-Fight' model proposed by the US Department of Homeland Security sets out easy-to-remember tactics to ensure your survival in an active shooter situation. 'Run' stands for evacuating immediately; 'Hide' - for taking shelter; and 'Fight' - for deploying mass shooting self-defense skills. These abstracts give basic knowledge helping to stay safe in a mass shooting.

They teach you to act quickly and prudently when gun violence happens in public places. However, if you wish to learn patterns of actions and adapt your mindset to life-threatening situations, consider attending active shooter training classes. The instructors emphasize that training "run, hide, fight" methods at specific workplaces like elementary schools, high schools, offices, e.g., helps respond to threats much more effectively.

Let's focus on the core tactics of active shooter effective response.

Evacuating from a shooting area

  • Pick the shortest escape route. The crucial thing is to choose the shortest way out possible. So pay attention to where the nearest windows, emergency exits, and fire stairs are.

  • Run straight towards the exit. There's no need to run in a zig-zag and keep your head low unless you're in the shooter's sight. But if you are, moving rapidly from one obstacle to another will increase your chance of survival.

  • Tell law enforcement about the situation. Once you align with the police cordon, get to the nearest officer and tell them what happened. Police would like to know the shooter's location, type of weaponry, and is there an accomplice or hostage with the shooter.

Hiding and barricading

  • Hide and barricade. If fleeing is no option, lock the door and block it with heavy furniture. Once you do it, don't stand in front of the door and step aside.

  • Take cover. To stay safe in a mass shooting, hide behind a massive obstacle that is sturdy enough to stop a bullet. These may be concrete or brick walls, interior pillars, or bulky furniture like filing cabinets. 

  • Find concealment. If there's no robust object to hide behind, take shelter under the desk or behind the office cubicle to stay out of the gunman's sight. Keep in mind that concealments won't protect you from a stray bullet. So crouch down to the floor.

Engaging the shooter

  • Arm yourself. Look around your hideout to find anything you can use as a weapon. Anything heavy, peaky, and sharp should work. You may also throw glasses and other small but weighty items at the gunman to temporarily stun them.

  • Fight as a group. Split the tasks to ambush the shooter instantly, so they won't stand any chance. The strongest of you should go for an arm holding a gun, grab it, and hit it against the wall. Other group members should simultaneously grasp the shooter by the hips and neck to immobilize them.

  • Aim for the vulnerable parts. Focus on the most vulnerable parts to force the gunner to drop the weapon as quickly as possible. Strike them in the head, spill or pray chemicals right into the eyes, and stab them into the neck or forearms. And remember – don't stop till they cease to resist.

We sincerely believe that you're courageous and persistent. Even if you doubt it, the life-and-death situation will fuel your motivation to survive and give you the strength to act swiftly and decisively.

May Adversity Pass You By

It may seem that alertness toward mass shootings should inevitably become an everyday concern. But the truth is that Americans have never been left alone with such problems. Our shared determination to fight gun violence was productive not only once.

In fact, previously adopted gun-control laws have mitigated the risks of mass shootings a lot:

  • The large-capacity magazine bans are in force in 9 states and the District of Columbia.

  • Currently, six states have banned the sale of assault weapons.

  • On top of that, federal bans on firearm ownership for felons and people with domestic violence records exist.

Considering the active collaboration of federal and state authorities with public associations against gun violence, you're about to witness a significant safety improvement soon. Meanwhile, we wish you to keep safe and take care.

Need to Request Aid? Make It Safe and Quiet with Allswell Alert!

Knowing that someone close to you is aware that you're in trouble would be great support no matter what. With the Allswell Alert personal safety app, your friends and family would know your location and call emergency services. More importantly, it allows you to send SOS requests secretly without exposing yourself.

Allswell Alert app features include:

  • Panic button. Activate it to send multiple SOS messages with your GPS location.

  • Inactivity tracking. The app automatically sends SOS notifications to selected contacts if your phone remains untouched longer than it should be.

  • Support of 11 emergency contacts. You can reach 11 selected people at once.

Access the full functionality of the Allswell app by signing up for a free one-month trial. Download it from AppStore and Google Play to enable 24/7 efficient and silent safety monitoring.

Start your free 30 day trial in 3 easy steps

Start your free trial

¢33/day or less after that

Try for free