Bright Side
Bright Side

How to Survive an Active Shooter or Terrorist Attack

We all believe we'll never get into big trouble. However, trouble doesn't ask us whether we believe in it or not — it just hails, all of a sudden, like thunder. You can't know when or if you will find yourself in a dangerous situation, but there are certain things that can help you to stay safe if you find yourself in an area where an active shooting occurs.

You've probably heard the expression that ignorance is bliss, but this isn't applicable to these situations. Like it or not, mass shootings and terrorist attacks now happen more often then we all would like.

Bright Side wants to highlight some very important points about how to react to a terrorist or active shooter incident. Check it out, and share with your friends — because you cannot possibly be over-prepared for life-threatening situations.


Unfortunately, shooters often target public places, especially at certain events. This brings us to the first step. When you go to any event, take a few minutes to look around and check where the exits are. This is a good habit to have because it may help you to not only escape the attack but a fire, earthquake, or any other situation where you just want to get out.

Realize that it is real.

If it sounds like a gunshot or an attack, it might be a gunshot or an attack. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Hopefully, you'll find out later that it was just a joke, but it is better to laugh afterward than suffer from being too relaxed.


There is no shame in running. Don’t worry about your stuff — run. Everything is replaceable — except your life. Get as far away from the danger as possible. Don’t forget that windows are a good option for escaping. Glass cuts or even a broken leg can be healed much more easily than the damage from a bullet. Forget about zig-zag or banding techniques — run as fast as possible. The only exception might be if the shooter can see you.


If you cannot escape, find shelter. Hide and start barricading using any heavy objects nearby. The harder it is for the attacker to enter the place where you are, the better it is for you. Most of the time, the attacker has only a few minutes before the police show up, so you just have to make it until then.

Find cover.

Forget all the movies you've seen with super-agents. Things like a chair, a door, or a car will not stop a bullet. Concrete or brick walls are always better options. When they are available, of course. Turn off any gadget that can make any noise.

Call the emergency services.

It may sound surprising, but statistics say that it often takes about 10 minutes for somebody to dial the emergency services. Use a landline if possible as it can be tracked more quickly. Stay calm, and give clear details. Follow the police instructions to the letter.

Find a weapon.

It can be absolutely anything: scissors, an umbrella, an old broom, or even a cup of hot coffee.

If there are other people around, work as a team. One person should call the emergency services. A few people should barricade the entry. Somebody should start looking for a potential weapon.


Fighting is the last option when you have nowhere to go and nothing to lose. Aim for the face and the eyes, and gouge them. Don’t worry about winning the fight — you just need to get time to escape. Distract and run. Shock and run. Remember this is not a boxing match. You don’t have to win; you need to stay alive.

Stay human.

If somebody looks disorientated and too scared to act, help if you can. Grab that person when they start running, calm them down, and encourage them to be more cooperative. But don’t sacrifice your life. Don’t put yourself into a situation when instead of one person in trouble the police get 2 people in trouble.

Learn new skills.

It might be a good idea to attend some defense courses. You will learn how to defend yourself, how to escape from danger, and how to use ordinary objects for protection. If you have never done anything like that, don't worry. You would be very surprised what you are capable of, and who knows? It might make a critical difference in an unpleasant situation.

Nothing is more important than life. If you think we missed something, please add it in the comments below. And share this article with your friends and family. We want you all to be safe.

Illustrated by Igor Polushin for Bright Side
Bright Side/Tips & tricks/How to Survive an Active Shooter or Terrorist Attack
Share This Article
You may like these articles