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10 Ways to Protect Yourself and Others From a Mass Shooter

10 Ways to Protect Yourself and Others From a Mass Shooter
The front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is seen on February 18, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19 year old former student Nikolas Cruz for the mass shooting that killed 17 people on February 14. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By Tuesday, 20 February 2018 11:31 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Parkland, Florida, the site of last week's deadly school shooting, was named Florida's safest city last year. Now, it´s place in history will be overshadowed by an entirely different association, as it joins the ranks of the locations of the most deadly school shootings in American history. The Parkland community is in our hearts and prayers as we mourn for their loss, remember the lives of the victims, and honor the heroism displayed by those who gave their lives to save others.

Yet from a threat assessment perspective, we not only look back to see what red flags were missed, but we look forward to plan how we can protect ourselves and our children from the next one. Because as much as we do not want to admit it, in terms of another mass shooting, the question is not if, but when.

Preparation, Not Paranoia

Anticipating the next mass shooting or act of terrorism requires expanding our level of awareness and preparedness. There are practical tips we can take to be proactive, not reactive, in order to protect our loved ones and ourselves. Here are some suggestions:

1. Prepare Your Device: Pre-program local emergency numbers into your cell phone and the phones of your children, to easily contact police, fire, or paramedics during a crisis. Keep social media pages loaded in case you need to communicate with your children, or assure friends and family that you are safe. Download local news and information apps to facilitate keeping up with the latest developments. Have your flashlight app ready to go in case of a power failure. Once your device is loaded with lifesaving features and apps, remember to bring your charger.

2. Protect Your Self: If you were under attack, what would you use as a weapon? You don't have to pack heat, think outside the box. What items do you have in your vicinity that you can use as weapons if you had to? Look around and see if you can identify three.

3. Protect Your Senses: Don´t wear sunglasses that obstruct your full view of your surroundings, or that compromise depth perception. Avoid wearing earphones blasting music so loud you can't hear the sound of gunfire, or the screams of pedestrians who spot a moving vehicle barreling your way.

4. Protect Your Health: Carry your essentials. If you or your child has to take medication on a regular schedule, have it accessible. Carry bottled water if you are planning to spend an extended amount of time in a crowd such as at a concert or sporting event. You don't even want to think about being taken hostage, but you never know when you are going to be delayed. Schools, office buildings, and airports go on lockdown when there is an active threat.

5. Protect Your Resources: Carry identification, credit cards, devices, and chargers. Duplicate important documents such as your driver´s license and passport if you are traveling abroad, in case you or loved ones back home need the information when the actual documents are not in your possession. Make plans for your pets at home in case your return is delayed, and remember that many shelters don’t allow them.

6. Protect Your Space: Whether at home or in a hotel, lock your front door. Lock the doors to your business if you feel threatened during a time of crisis (remember the terrorists who targeted the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris). When you are driving, lock your car doors; many terrorist attacks involve carjacking during attempted escape.

7. Protect Your Access to Escape: In public, whether in a classroom or office break room, where are the exits? Remember the advice of airline flight attendants: sometimes your closest exit is behind you. This includes stairways, which are often the best option because elevators can become deathtraps. Take the time to investigate where they are.

8. Protect Your Family: In addition to the earthquake and fire drills many of us remember as kids in school, some families have decided to have active shooter drills, just in case. Discussing what would you do, and where would you meet up if God forbid you found yourself in the middle of an active shooter scenario is a subject some parents have decided to discuss with age appropriate children. Sure, discussion of terrorism is frightening. Yet many parents believe that discussing how to survive the worst-case scenario is better than the alternative.

9. Protect Your Home: Identify safe rooms, meeting spots, and emergency supplies. Criminals report being dissuaded by things such as seeing a car in a driveway, a dog, hearing music or television inside, or a security alarm going off. Make your home as uninviting of a target as possible.

10. Protect Your Neighborhood. Neighborhood watch programs don’t work if no one is watching. Particularly because criminals often are watching you and your neighbors as they case homes and businesses, planning an attack. Be part of a civilian coalition of counter surveillance by staying alert, functioning as the eyes and ears of law enforcement on the ground.

After Preparing For the Worst, Hope For the Best

No one wants to live in fear. Accordingly, proactive planning reduces paranoia. Discussing safety procedures and protocol can increase the confidence of you and your family members because knowledge is power. Strategizing safety will increase your sense of security, as well as your chances of survival.

Parts of this article were originally published in Psychology Today.

Wendy L. Patrick is a career prosecutor, named the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year, and recognized by her peers as one of the Top Ten criminal attorneys in San Diego by the San Diego Daily Transcript. She has completed over 150 trials ranging from human trafficking, to domestic violence, to first-degree murder. She is President of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals San Diego Chapter and an ATAP Certified Threat Manager. Dr. Patrick is a frequent media commentator with over 2,500 appearances including CNN, Fox News Channel, Newsmax, and many others. She is author of "Red Flags" (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of the revised version of the New York Times bestseller "Reading People" (Random House). On a personal note, Dr. Patrick holds a purple belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, is a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony, and plays the electric violin with a rock band. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.

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Parkland, Florida, the site of last week's deadly school shooting, was named Florida's safest city last year.
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2018-31-20
Tuesday, 20 February 2018 11:31 AM
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