Trigger Warning: this article contains subjects that are sensitive to some readers.

There are multiple tragedies happening every day across the country, and while seemingly unable to be prevented, the best that we can do at the moment is to protect ourselves in case we are faced with an armed intruder.

Be Aware

Many of us may think that something like a shooting cannot happen to us, but in reality it can happen to anyone. This is why it is important to know the steps to take in case we do find ourselves in that situation.

Being aware of the situation is the best thing to do for yourself. You should know your environment and any possible dangers that may present themselves.

For most students reading, this may be their first semester at RIT. The campus is very large and is a very daunting place for those who are not familiar with it.

As you venture around campus throughout the semester, make sure to take note of possible escape routes, such as the exits in every building you enter. This way if a situation arises where you need to evacuate, you have a plan as to where you should go to get to a safe location.

Another big step you can take is to profile potential dangers. 

Similar to animals, humans have instincts that are genetically hard-wired behaviors, enhancing our abilities to survive and cope in our environments. For example, many humans have a fear of snakes due to the danger that they pose to us. 

When you’re in potential danger, your body will react with a fight or flight instinct, activating the sympathetic nervous system and triggering an acute stress response. If you feel like you are in danger, listen to your instincts and remove yourself from any given situation. 

What to do if a Situation Arises

If you are ever faced with an armed intruder, these steps are recommended to ensure your safety:

First, evacuation should be your top priority, which is why it is important to be aware of your surroundings. You should have an escape route planned, and help others if possible.

Leave behind any belongings that could potentially hinder your chances of escaping quickly. 

Once you meet up with any law enforcement, make sure to follow any steps that they give to you.

If escaping is not possible, the next best course of action is to take cover and hide somewhere.

Your hiding place should be outside of the shooter’s line of sight. There should be some form of protection in case shots are fired in your direction, and make sure you aren’t restricted from movement.

Ideal places to hide are rooms where you can lock the door as well as provide items to cover, such as desks or cabinets. Office spaces are ideal, but it’s worth noting that many of the RIT classrooms have doors with locks on them.

Worst case scenario, if you find yourself in immediate danger, act aggressively. Throw things that may harm an active shooter's ability to hurt you and others. Yelling is another step to take that can disrupt their focus. 

While we all hope that we will never have to deal with a crisis situation, we should always make sure to know the correct steps to ensure our protection.