Security mapsfire evacuation maps, and severe weather maps are all important components to ensure a safe emergency action plan (EAP). However, there is much more that goes into protecting the people your buildings. Regardless of the industry you’re in, one of the most important events to plan and prepare for is an active shooter. According to a 2017 report by the FBI, 250 active shooter incidents were reported between 2000 and 2017. During that span, nearly 800 were killed and over 1,400 wounded as a result of these attacks.

Preparing for an event as serious as an active shooter event can be daunting. That’s why its important to stay in contact with professionals throughout the planning process. Adding security maps to your EAP is an important step to making your buildings are safe. Building Maps’ illustration and OSHA/NFPA compliance specialists can take this task out of your hands. We will guide you through the process towards safe and compliant active shooter planning for your buildings.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has published a concise set of guidelines on how to prepare and react to an active shooter event. FEMA recommends that you map out your active shooter hiding places in rooms without windows and behind solid doors with locks. They add it’s important that everyone in the building is informed to hide under desks or behind heavy furniture. Large filing cabinets and shelves are examples of effective emergency barriers.

The same FEMA documents state most workplaces, schools, and houses of worship should have plans in place for you to respond to an active shooter event appropriately. Ask about these plans at buildings your visit regularly, and familiarize yourself with their content. Then, take what you’ve learned from those security plans and discuss those topics with your friends and family. Use the safety techniques you’ve learned and apply them to school security plans and building safety plans and maps. Additionally, it’s good get in the habit of identifying two nearby exits anytime you are visiting a building that you are unfamiliar with.

FEMA also offers active shooter, first aid, and tourniquet training as apart of their “You Are the Help Until Help Arrives” program. The more people in your buildings that are knowledgeable on building safety, the safer everyone will be in the event of an active shooter.

Run, Hide, Fight

When reacting to an active shooter situation, FEMA recommends the “Run, Hide, Fight” survival strategy.

RUN – Make getting away from the active shooter your top priority. Warn others nearby about the situation if it’s safe to do so. Once you have gotten yourself out of harm’s way, call 911 immediately and describe each shooter’s appearance, location, and weapons to the best of your ability.

HIDE – If you are unable to get away from the shooter safely, find a place to hide that is out of the view of the active shooter and remain very quiet (silence your electronic devices and turn off vibrate settings). Lock and block all of the doors in your hiding space, close the blinds, and turn off the lights. Additionally, it’s important to avoid hiding in groups. If this is unavoidable, spread yourselves out along the walls to the best of your ability. If possible, try to communicate with the police silently. This can be accomplished through text messages or even written signs posted on exterior windows. Stay in place until law enforcement gives you notice that all immediate danger is clear.

FIGHT – Your last resort when you are in immediate danger is to defend yourself. Commit to your actions and act aggressively to stop the shooter. If possible, attack in groups. Ambushing the shooter together with makeshift weapons such as chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, and books can distract and disarm the shooter.


FEMA‘s active shooter guidelines also lay out the best ways to remain safe after an active shooter event has taken place. Their documents state that after an active shooting has ended, keep your hands empty and visible for your own safety. Know that law enforcement’s first task is to end the incident. They may have to pass injured persons along the way. Also, follow law enforcement’s instructions and evacuate in the direction they tell you to. Following an active shooting event, consider seeking professional help to cope with the long-term effects of trauma.


“Be Prepared for an Active Shooter” (FEMA)

OSHA Guidelines and Active Shooter Defense (OSHA)

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