School shootings are happening more and more often. We always think “that’ll never be a part of my reality,” or “I’ll never need tips on how to handle a school shooting.” Well, in the heat of the moment, you’re not going to have time to google “what to do in a school shooting,” so you need to be prepared in the event that your school is targeted next. Aside from the drills and training that your school implements, here are some additional tips for students in a school shooting.

Keep Yourself and Others Calm

Shock will likely be the first thing you feel when you hear the shots go off. Everyone around you will freeze, and before you know it, some will begin to panic when everyone needs to stay quiet. The shooter cannot know where to find more targets, so keeping yourself and those around you calm is critical.

Make sure that you speak confidently, sternly, but also calmly. When many people go into fight, flight, or freeze mode, they will not react well to someone being callous. Do your best to instruct others on what they should do and where they should go in the most efficient way possible. Moving people during an attack can feel like herding cats, so it’s important to not lose your patience.

Raised voices, shouting, or crying out can add unneeded fuel to the fire, especially when there is panic in the air. These emotions in a high stress environment can be very contagious. All the more reason to remain calm as you lead your group of students to safety.

Spend Unencumbered Time Learning The School Layout

Thankfully, federal law mandates that schools must have fire drills and other safety training for students, faculty, and staff. The routes taken for a fire drill can also be used in the event of an active shooter. Knowing the quickest and safest routes out of the building will be essential to protecting yourself and others if an active shooter comes along.

However, kids treat fire drills as a way to get out of class and joke around during other school-related scenario practice sessions. As a student, it can be easy to blow these off but what your teachers and admins are doing for you is invaluable. They are doing what they can on a large scale to prepare you and your fellow students for something that could happen.

If your school has a shooting scenario drill, pay attention and speak up against those students who are joking around during the practice. Peer leadership can be difficult, but it’s essential that everyone pays close attention during active shooter drills. Additionally, if your school does not have shooter drills, seek the board’s approval with a group of responsible students to see if you can start one.

Remember “Run, Hide, Fight”

In that order! If you have the chance to run, do so in zigzag patterns if you’re out in the open. If you’re inside, run and turn corners, and be as unpredictable as possible. Do not stop until you are forced to hide or found a safe exit out of the building.

Use the larger objects around you to turn into obstacles and blockades. Bookshelves, tables, and desks will provide added protection when made into an obstacle for the shooter to attempt getting through. Hide if you get the chance and you can’t safely run. It’s also important to remember to hide alone if possible, and in a place that’s hard to find. Sometimes the shooter has a strong understanding of the layout of the building, so find less common or unpredictable places to hide.

Stay silent and make sure there’s nothing that could break your cover. Do not forget to silence your phones! Statistics show that a phone ringer or loud vibration can be the reason a shooter finds someone hiding. You need to hide until authorities come to find you, and don’t give up your position until you’re absolutely sure. When the authorities find you, do not resist, and do exactly as you are told.

Fight ONLY as a last resort. Everything around you, and your body itself, can be turned into a weapon. While we would never want you to put yourself in danger, if it comes to it, be as aggressive as possible and fight to survive, literally.

Caught In The Fire

If you get stuck in the same room as the shooter with no way to protect yourself or a clear way to distance yourself, it’s important to drop and play dead–literally. Especially if the shooter has already shot in your general direction. However, be careful falling flat. Bullets can follow the path on the floor if they hit a hard surface. So, if you are semi-hidden, when you drop, drop to your hands and knees, not flat. You can also move faster crawling on your hands and knees rather than laying flat.

Active shooters are a terrible part of our reality. We have no control over who they are, where they target, or when they do it. It’s not the world we wanted but you do have, but with tips and training, you can have control over your behavior and reaction if it happens at your school.