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Getting Ahead: How to Prepare Your Workplace for an Active Shooter Situation

Active shooter incidents have unfortunately become somewhat of a norm in recent years. The FBI offers some startling statistics citing that 220 incidents occurred between 2000 and 2016 that resulted in a total of 1,486 casualties, including individuals killed and wounded. Even worse, nearly half (43.2 percent) occurred inside businesses. Here’s how to prepare your workplace in a worst-case scenario when there is an active shooter on the premises.

Develop a Communications Plan

This type of incident is likely to occur when you least expect it. It’s vital that your team members are able to efficiently communicate with one another to diffuse the situation and keep everyone—both your employees and customers—safe. According to, one of the most important things is to instruct your employees to report anything suspicious to an authority right away. You’ll also want to instruct individuals to immediately head for exits if possible.

Assess Your Office and/or Surroundings explains that running and escaping should be your top priority in this situation. Assess the physical layout of your office and surroundings and identify at least two exits that can serve as escape paths.

Review Employee Safety Tips

All employees should know exactly what to do in the event of an active shooter. Some key safety tips include:

  • Escaping and helping others escape
  • Hiding out in a safe location if escape isn’t possible
  • Getting out of the shooter’s view
  • Remaining quiet
  • Silencing electronic devices like smartphones to avoid drawing attention
  • Locking doors and turning out lights
  • Using texting or other silent communication to alert police of an employee’s location

Train and Provide Safety Drills

Just like in the event of a fire or any other emergency, it’s important to perform occasional safety drills to ensure maximum preparation. Have your staff run through these drills so that they’ll know exactly what to do in a worst-case scenario and will be less likely to panic. You can find more information on training programs here.

The threat of an active shooter is an unpleasant reality that we must deal with in this day and age. While the chances of something like this occurring are small, it’s critical that your workplace is prepared in the event that it does. Check out this resource from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for more advice and safety tips.

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