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Public shootings: How to stay safe if you find yourself in the line of fire

There literally is no place that is 100 per cent safe and immune to public shootings. The party hosted by entertainer Drake, where two innocent bystanders were shot and killed, is a recent example. We know that allowing fear of danger to shape your life or prevent you from living a full life is not the solution, but how do you continue to go out, live life and stay safe?

As a safety expert, my goal is to empower people with tools and tips to live safely and without fear. I educate about the warning signs that lead up to the events, as well as how to stay safe when out in public.

Here are some things you can do to try to stay safe:

1. Always assess your surroundings when you enter a public place

Know where the exits are, and know who is present. In a crisis situation, your mind may not be able to process how to locate the exits. If you made a mental note in advance of a crisis, you will be able to remember the location and to escape in an emergency.

More: 3 Apps to keep you safe

2. Watch for potential trouble

You are not going to be able to look at people and determine who may cause trouble or an issue, but you will get a sense of who is present, perhaps notice any odd behaviour and allow your instinct to size up the situation. Watch for escalating or potential issues: Is there an angry customer present? Is there an argument brewing? Is someone behaving suspiciously?

3. Listen to your body, and trust your instincts

If you get a bad or weird “vibe” when you are present, listen to your body’s warning signals. If your instincts cause a funny feeling in the pit of your stomach or the hairs are standing up on the back of your neck, don’t try to determine the source or reason — get out of the situation immediately. All animals in nature have the ability to sense fear. Humans are the only ones who ignore that voice.

4. If danger breaks out when you are present:

  • Escape. If you are able to safely get out of the room or space, go quickly and without hesitation.
  • Hide. Duck down; hide under something to escape the perpetrator’s view.
  • Avoid contact. That means eye contact and physical contact. Do not assume that because of specialized training or that you carry a weapon that you are able to take on a perpetrator or shooter.

More: 5 Steps to take to safely track your lost or stolen smartphone

5. The last option is to fight to survive

Use whatever you have to get out alive. Hand-to-hand, a weapon, lethal or non-lethal, etc. Do not instigate or initiate the fight. Only when you are face to face and that is the only way out should fighting become an option.

6. Call for help after you are safe

Do not try to call the police in the midst of the danger; wait until you are in a secure location and safe. Unless you have access to a smartphone app that will allow you to silently press a button to release your location to law enforcement officials, your talking will draw attention to yourself and might possibly make you a target. Your phone conversation is also a distraction for you, and you are not present and focused on the situation at hand and on surviving. Calling for help should only be done after you are safe.

Be on alert and prepared to take safe steps and measures and to defend yourself if need be. Think in a proactive manner, have a safety plan, and you can have freedom.

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