FEMA Active Shooter Procedures

How to Prepare and Respond During and After an Active Shooter Incident


Recent national tragedies remind us that the risk is real. An active shooter incident can happen in any place, at any time. The best ways to make sure you and your loved ones stay safe are to prepare ahead of time and be ready. Taking a few steps now and mentally rehearsing what to do can help you react quickly when every second counts.



Take an Active Role in Your Own Safety




  • Sign up for active shooter training.

  • If you see something, say something:

    • If you see suspicious activity, let an authority know right away.
  • Know community response plans:

    • Many places like houses of worship, workplaces, and schools have plans in place to help you respond safely. If you participate in an active shooter drill, talk to your family about what you learn and how to apply it to other locations.
  • Identify the exits and good places to hide:

    • When you visit a building like a shopping mall or healthcare facility, take time to identify two nearby exits. Get in the habit of doing this.
    • Map out places to hide. Solid doors with locks, rooms without windows, and heavy furniture like large filing cabinets and desks make good hiding places.
  • Learn and practice first aid skills and use of tourniquets:

    • Sign up for first aid training and tourniquet training.



  • Run:

    • Getting away from the shooter or shooters is the top priority. Leave your things behind and run away. If safe to do so, warn others nearby. Call 911 when you are safe. Describe each shooter, their locations and weapons.
  • Hide:

    • If you cannot get away safely, find a place to hide. Get out of the shooter’s view and stay very quiet. Silence your electronic devices and make sure they will not vibrate. Lock and block doors, close blinds and turn off lights.
  • Fight:

    • Your last resort when you are in immediate danger is to defend yourself. Commit to your actions and act aggressively to stop to the shooter. Ambushing the shooter together with makeshift weapons such as chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, and books can distract and disarm the shooter.


You may need to use more than one option.




  • Help law enforcement:

    • Keep hands visible and empty.
    • Know that law enforcement’s first task is to end the incident, and they may have to pass injured along the way.
    • Follow law enforcement instructions and evacuate in the direction they come from.
  • Seek out medical help.

  • Help others survive.

  • Seek help to cope with psychological trauma:

    • Consider seeking professional help for you and your family to cope with the log-term effects of the trauma.


To Download and Print: Active Shooter Procedures- FEMA

Last Updated August 15, 2018