There was a time, in the not so distant past, where we could go almost anywhere and live our lives relatively free from fear. Nobody hesitated to go to a concert or sporting event. Nobody worried about festivals, parades or movies. Traveling abroad was about cultural experiences, not travel warnings and terrorism preparedness.
The world is changing. Fast. All of a sudden we look at public gatherings through a different lens. We think of the “what if’s.” We take a second look at the guy in the bulky coat. We try to be casual as we take note of our nearest exit. I find myself on guard even at church.
In this day and age, it’s time we all educate ourselves on how to safely handle situations like the Las Vegas shooting. I hate it, but it’s the world we live in. Balancing a healthy awareness of the possibilities with a desire to live our lives free from fear is tricky business. But I think we all have a responsibility to reasonably educate ourselves on what we can do to avoid being among the victims of the next nut job with an AR.
H/T WGN TV
It’s a scenario no one wants to imagine: you’re in a crowd of people when gunshots ring out, as they did Sunday night at a country music concert in Las Vegas.
Active shooter situations are usually over within 10 to 15 minutes, according to the Department of Homeland Security, and public safety experts say following a few basic principles whenever you go to a public event could save your life:
Pay attention to your surroundings
Personal safety consultant Doug Cummings says developing situational awareness – and not being oblivious to the scene around you – is key to staying safe.
“One of the key things about being aware is that it gives you a couple of minutes of extra time, sometimes to be able to flee or take some kind of an action,” Cummings said.
He says many times when people are not paying attention they end up panicking, which can put them in even more danger.
Preparation is key
Whenever entering a crowded situation, experts say it’s important to take note of the nearest exits, any possible dangers and places you could run to for shelter. After noting where the exits are, work out an escape route and plan in case the worst should happen.
Trying to keep distance between you and the people around you can also provide enough space to move around and see if any situations are occurring around you. Cummings said keeping people at least an arm’s length away is ideal.
When shots break out
According to a guide on how to respond to an active shooter by the Department of Homeland Security, it’s important to quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life.
Generally, the priorities according to their guide are: evacuate, hide out, take action. Evacuation is the top priority, and everything should be left behind if it’s possible to leave the area. If evacuation is not possible, then hiding out somewhere that is out of view, protected, and secured can work. Only as a last resort should the shooter be confronted, according to the guide.
If you see something, say something
Another mantra to keep in mind: if you see something, say something.
Officials with the Cook County Department of Homeland Security say while it’s nearly impossible to prevent situations like Las Vegas, many times officials learn after the fact that there were clues or suspicious behavior people noticed but didn’t report.
“What we need people to do is get over that fear of reporting suspicious activity because they could be preventing the next tragedy,” said Natalia Derevanny, Cook County Homeland Security and Emergency.
It’s no wonder we live in a society plagued with anxiety. While we all like to say we won’t let the terrorists win, I think they may be already winning in the subtle, yet very real, uptick in our collective fear level. I’m not even sure that we even realize this has happened.
It’s been a somewhat gradual process. Flying became just a little more worrisome, being at the movies had an element of uneasiness, even sending your kids to school makes you think twice, even if it’s just for a second. The relentless anxiety is taking it’s toll on our psyche.
Slowly but surely we created an undercurrent of fear just leaving the house. Unfortunately, fear tends to grow, not shrink. Every time a situation like Las Vegas happens, fear ticks up a notch. Over time, we as a society turn into Xanax popping, paranoid people. While many can keep perspective and still enjoy public events with a healthy dose of threat awareness, I imagine we will see more and more people avoid vulnerable gatherings and I certainly can’t blame them.
We need to try to continue living life to its fullest and enjoying the community we have around us. But at the same time, a healthy level of awareness can go a long way in keeping us safe. I think we can all use a gentle reminder of these tips to file in the back of our mind, readily available if we need them.