Friday, June 2, 2023


Staying safe in an active shooter event

As RVers, we travel to a number of unknown places and go to a lot of stores in a lot of neighborhoods we aren’t familiar with. After what happened to me this morning, I am reviewing how to stay safe in an active shooter event.

I was in a Walmart, an RVer’s favorite store, and a loud alarm went off. The woman standing next to me and I started looking around frantically. Looking down the aisle, down the checkout lines, and at the entrances, I realized we were looking for the same thing: a shooter. The alarm stopped, we exhaled at the same time and I tried to ease the tension by saying, “I don’t hear gunshots; it’s okay.” She had been listening for the same thing. I was rooted to the spot and had no clear idea what I was going to do if the next sound was actually gunfire.

Before the comments start rolling, this is not intended to be a soapbox for or against guns, shooting rights or wrongs, mental health or background checks. It is to pass on some tips I have learned about staying safe in an active shooter situation. If you have additional tips, please feel free post them in the comments, but this is not the place to start a gun debate. It is a place to feel a bit safer and more in control amidst the horrifying onslaught of mass shootings lately.

Chances of being involved in active shooter event are small

First of all, the chances of being involved in an active shooter event are small. But as we keep seeing on the news, they can happen anywhere at any time. The average shooter event has four victims where two die and two are injured. I don’t want to be a victim at all.

According to Lieutenant Kenneth Silva of the Maricopa County Attorney General’s office, 70 percent of mass shootings end in five minutes or less. The national average for police arriving on the scene is three minutes, and most shootings will end before the police even enter the building or area. Police intervene with active shooters only 30 percent of the time.

That means time is critical. Do not rely on others’ actions. Take charge to save yourself and your family immediately. Your courage may lead others, but you must not wait for them to act.

Staying safe in an active shooter situation


Be aware of the surroundings. Note where exits are in any building. Routinely visualize escape routes. 50 percent of active shooting situations are where money is exchanged or commerce occurs. Be vigilant in banks, office buildings, and stores.

My grandson-in-law was a Navy Seal. When we would all go out together I was surprised how he was turning and looking everywhere. He had intense situational awareness and let me know he would always keep my granddaughter safe.

As always, if something feels off, trust your instincts and leave.


Running as quickly and as far away as possible from the gunfire increases the odds of survival and is your first line of defense. While fleeing, if there is a safe way out of the building or area, take it and get as much distance as possible between you and the shooter. Forget your belongings and run.

Call 911 when safe to do so, with as much information as possible.


Find a place to hide out of view from the shooter. Lock doors and barricade, if possible. Turn off the lights and silence cell phones. Close windows, shades, and blinds. Hide anywhere that is as far away as possible from the gunfire and is unobtrusive.

If outdoors, hide in an area that will provide the most protection such as brick walls, large trees, or buildings.


This is a last resort only, the most dangerous and least likely to survive. Use anything that you have or you find that can be a weapon to fight back. Fire extinguishers, chairs, and anything that can be thrown at the attacker. Act aggressively and disrupt the attacker’s actions.

Get angry!

Be prepared and aware. Anger can override fear and anger coupled with action are a necessity in staying safe and surviving.

Immediately after:

Leave the area when all clear is called with hands up and fingers spread. Hands should be empty and you should not be holding anything (it could be confused with a gun). Walk slowly and as directed by law enforcement.


Here are two videos to watch to help you stay safe with an active shooter. Knowing this information could save your life, as well as others.

If you travel with a firearm, make sure you know the firearm laws of all 50 states.


Campground owners urged to provide employees ‘active shooter’ training


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.


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Neal Davis
5 days ago

Thanks, Nanci! Good advice and consistent with the “active shooter” training I was required to take annually as a federal employee. The headline triggered my recollection of the training, which you conveyed as well and much more succinctly (and less painfully) than the training I received.

Last edited 5 days ago by Neal Davis
11 days ago

If your armed fighting back is the first resort. You may save others that way.
If not armed, then follow the recommendations above. All good advice.

Bill Byerly
11 days ago
Reply to  Cancelproof

Yep !

11 days ago

Excellent Nanci. Sadly we have come to this in our country. My wife has COPD in the late stage so running is not an option. I’ve told her if I yell “Dead Bug” she should hit the floor and play dead – which I will do and then we will decide on an alternative escape action, after I’ve assessed the situation more clearly. I wish the news media would quit glorifying these incidents and turning maybe wannabes’ into headlines!

11 days ago

Thanks for that Nanci, and for including the videos. I’ve never really thought about being IN a shooter situation like that, although I’ve thought a lot about the why’s and the where’s of these shootings when I read about them (which is far too often these days). We try to stay out of the cities when traveling, and we live in the country, so we feel safe from this insanity. But, you never know…

Dana D
11 days ago

When I’m eating in any restaurant, I always sit facing the door, and I know where the exits are located. Notwithstanding I’m always armed where legal to do so, flight is the best advice. I recall where a good intentioned armed citizen was killed in a store because he decided to pursue the sole criminal (so the citizen thought) before the police arrived only to be shot in the back by another criminal protecting his buddy.

Additionally, the Las Vegas PD recommends not wearing any apparel or displaying any signs that “advertise” you have a firearm. Don’t wear NRA hats/clothing or have signs in the windows of your home or on your vehicle such as “Protected by Smith & Wesson”. Doing so does not deter criminals. They want your firearms, and if you advertise you have them the criminals will be emboldened to target you.

11 days ago

2 A

Uncle Swags
11 days ago

Play dead and pray to God if all else fails. Know how to defend yourself and how to disable an attacker with whatever is at hand including your own hands. Be mentally ready to kill someone if necessary.

Bob P
11 days ago

Shooters always pick locations where guns are not allowed these are the places you need to be situationally very observant. A shooter doesn’t want a place where someone may shoot back.

11 days ago

Always be armed where you can do so legally. Never assume anything and keep your head on a swivel. When seconds count the police are only minutes away. Be prepared and be safe.

11 days ago

The tips are relevant regardless of the attacker’s weapon of choice. I had a friend whose child was attacked in their preschool by a crazy person with a claw hammer. Try to always be aware of your environment – potential threats, available exits or hiding spots, defensive shielding or weapons, etc. The best tip is to be mentally prepared to fight for your survival.

11 days ago

Good advice and thank you for sharing it. God willing, none of us will
ever have the opportunity to put it into action.

Betty B
11 days ago

I was a manager before I retired. I was tasked with teaching the concept of run, hide, fight. I had a meeting periodically, in unusual places with my staff. Very informal discussions of “what would/should I do if” We would review run hide fight. We would look around at where we were and talk about where to run to, where to and how to hide. And how we would fight. It’s been 6 years, but I still look around for exits, hiding spots and weapons of defense.

Primo Rudy's Roadhouse
11 days ago

situational awareness!

11 days ago

Background checks only stall the “good guys.” “Bad guys” don’t ask for permission.

Roger V
11 days ago
Reply to  tom

From the article, “…this is not the place to start a gun debate.”

11 days ago
Reply to  Roger V


11 days ago
Reply to  Roger V

👍 some can’t help themselves

11 days ago
Reply to  tom

There is no debate. I appreciate your comment. Factually accurate. Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

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