Effective Safety Plan: Steps from Homeland Security

Effective Safety Plan: Steps from Homeland Security

Effective Safety Plan for an Active Shooter Situation

As school districts and other organizations discuss best practices in developing an effective safety plan for their specified institution, it is vital to understand how to respond efficiently and effectively if an emergency should arise, specifically an active shooter situation. In the handbook, Active Shooter: How to Respond, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) presents its view of best steps to include in an active shooter safety plan.

In the event of an active shooter at any institution the DHS first advises all to be able to immediately recognize the sound of gunshots. Once gunshots have been noticed and identified, it is vital to assess the situation quickly to determine the most reasonable way to save lives and follow a prescribed safety plan. From there one must move into a survival mindset and the DHS recommends to decide whether to RUN, HIDE, or FIGHT.


If escaping the situation is possible, do all that you can to evacuate the premises.

As mentioned in the handbook, the DHS recommends…
  • Having a plan
  • Leaving all belongings behind
  • Helping others escape while preventing others from going into the location of the active shooter
  • Calling 911
  • Following police orders


If it is not possible to evacuate, locate an effective place to hide.
The DHS advises to find a hiding spot…
  • That is out of sight from the view of the active shooter
  • That can provide protection by locking and barricading the door
  • That is a quiet location, free from all sources of noise
In this situation, often referred to as a lockdown, there are a variety of safety products provided by School Safety Solution that can be put into place to help stay out of sight from an active shooter.
  • The Hideaway Helper Lockdown Shade is a high-quality, easy to install, fire retardant blackout window covering that deploys into place within seconds and completely blocks vision into a classroom or office.
  • A bully-proof, code compliant* Classroom Door Lock that deploys a deadbolt in a matter of seconds to secure any classroom or office. *Interpretation of building and fire code varies widely and is subject to the Authority Having Jurisdiction.
  • Bleed Control Kits (tourniquets) are user-friendly for those who have limited or no medical background and can be utilized in the event of a bleed control emergency by responsible persons before first responders arrive.
  • Classroom Lockdown and First Aid Kits also are available in the event of a prolonged lockdown situation, allowing for responsible parties to apply first aid to minor injuries and a portable bathroom facility for someone with an urgent need to use the restroom.


In the situation that your life is in imminent danger, make all attempts to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter.
The DHS believes this can be accomplished by
  • Confidently yelling
  • Throwing items
  • Thrashing and acting aggressively
  • Improvising weapons

Developing a Safety Plan that is the Right Fit

It is imperative for each school and organization to evaluate and develop an active shooter safety plan that is best suitable to meet the specific needs of the building and its occupants. The Active Shooter: How to Respond handbook is one resource that can be utilized when developing such a safety plan, along with the lockdown safety products provided by School Safety Solution.