June 14, 2017
WHAT TO DO IN AN EMERGENCY
Today, instead of answering a reader question, I want to do something a little different. That horrible explosion at the Arianna Grande concert is really on my mind. And it’s got me thinking about what I would do if I were ever in a situation like that. I talked to my parents, the counselor at school, and my police officer uncle and got some advice. I hope it helps you. It definitely has helped me!
Some of the advice about what to do during the emergency itself has a lot in common with what you’re probably taught at school during active-shooter drills. Even Brianna immediately knew that she should, “Run, Hide, Fight.”
Basically, that means your very first job is to get away from the danger, if possible. Sometimes this won’t be possible. But here are a few things to remember if it is:
- LEAVE YOUR STUFF: Don’t waste ANY time grabbing your bag, coat, phone or whatever. Those precious moments are better spent getting away. It’s just stuff. You can replace it. Your life is more important.
- RUN IN A ZIG-ZAG PATTERN:
This seems very silly and also seems like it would take longer than running in a straight line. But if there’s someone with a gun, it’s a LOT harder for them to hit you if you’re not running in a straight line. (This advice only applies to a shooting situation. If it’s a bomb threat or a fire or something, just run straight.)
- DO NOT MOVE WOUNDED PEOPLE: This is really hard, but you’re not a doctor and you’re not going to be able to help them. Moving them might even make their injuries worse. Get to safety, and call for help. That’s the fastest way to help them.
- ACCEPT HELP: Adults are advised to help others get away. As a kid, this is NOT your responsibility. But I wanted to mention it here, because often we’re told not to talk to strangers or whatever. But in an emergency situation, if an adult is offering help, it’s okay to take it.
Sometimes you won’t be able to escape. The danger might be blocking your exit. In that case, here are some tips for hiding:
- STAY OUT OF VIEW: If you cannot escape, then you need to hide. If you can see the shooter, the shooter can see you.
- SHIELD YOURSELF: If possible, try to hide behind something metal or cement. Anything else is not going to protect you from a gunshot.
- LOCK AND BARRICADE: If you are somewhere with a door, lock it and block it with as much furniture as you can. Also, cover any windows.
- KEEP OPTIONS OPEN: Try not to hide in a bathroom or a closet or anywhere with only one way in or out.
- SILENCE: Silence your phone and be very quiet.
This is only ever your VERY last option. And as kids, it’s almost never going to be a good option. But if you have NO OTHER CHOICE, throw things, aim for sensitive areas, work together with other people in your area, make way for adults to take the lead.
So you’ve probably heard all that before. The piece about Manchester that I keep thinking about is what about after? What if I’d gone to the concert with Chloe and Zoey and we’d been dropped off by our parents? And then something terrible happens and we’re evacuated into the chaos… What then???
So here are a few more things to keep in mind.
- Try to stay calm. This is obviously going to be super hard if something terrible has just happened. But it will be much harder to make smart choices if you’re panicking.
- Call 911 only when you are safe. Then call your parents. If you left your phone behind, borrow someone’s. If phones aren’t working because of a natural disaster, for example, ask a police officer where parents will be told to find their kids.
- Follow the instructions of any police officers or other officials who are in charge of an evacuation. Keep your hands visible, so that the police or officials will know you’re not a dangerous person.
- Get help from a nearby adult. Look for someone who looks like a mom. Tell them you’re separated from your parents. Ask them for help with whatever you need—getting medical attention, finding food or water, or just company until you find your parents. If the first person you ask is unable to help, ask someone else. One of the things I noticed in the news about Manchester was how people helped each other. Taxi drivers gave free rides home. A homeless man did first aid. People welcomed strangers into their homes. Sikh temples offered food and shelter. No matter what has happened, there WILL be people willing to help.
Horrible things happen and there are terrible people in the world. It’s scary.
But there are a LOT more good people than bad. I totally believe that. I hope you do, too!
What are some emergency tips you know? Does your family have a plan for if you’re separated during an emergency?