Run, Hide, Fight – The Keys to Surviving an Active Shooter

Shooter's feet as bullet casings rain down on school notebooks.
Image by Charles Mann

The chances of being part of an active shooter scenario are extremely low. However, the key to survival is awareness of your surroundings, remaining calm, and following the advice from homeland security experts.

According to the Dallas County Homeland Security and Emergency Management, “Victims are often selected at random, and the event is unpredictable. Should you find yourself coping with an active shooter, remain calm and be aware of your environment and exits.”

Security experts say that running, hiding, and fighting are the keys to coming home alive if you find yourself in an active shooter situation.


Running is the best way to survive because you escape the area of immediate danger. Another benefit of running is that it is much more difficult for a shooter to hit a moving target.


If you cannot run, you should hide. This may be necessary if you are trapped in an interior room and the shooter is in the hallway. Hiding where you are is safer than running into the line of fire. You may have little time to find the best hiding position. Find a spot quickly, remain quiet, and stay out of sight until police arrive.


The reason why you should fight back is when running or hiding is not an option. If you are unarmed and forced to fight back against an active shooter, closing the distance between you and the shooter should be your number one priority. If you can get within arms reach of the shooter, you will not be at nearly as much of a disadvantage.

For more information about active shooter preparedness, visit the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. The Active Shooter Emergency Action Plan Guide and Video is a virtual training to develop an active shooter emergency action plan.

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