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    5 Ways Store Owners Can Prepare for an Active Shooter Event

    Active shooter situations are increasing. What can grocery store and convenience store owners do to prepare for these terrifying situations?

    It is no secret that active shooter cases have been on the rise over the last several years, and with the recent grocery store shootings in Colorado, Florida and New York, grocers need to be prepared should this ever happen in their stores.

    Active Shooter Data 2017-2021 (1)

    The National Grocers Association recently held a seminar that provided guidance from FBI Special Agent Michael Vuong on how grocers can be prepared for an active shooter situation. Here are 5 ways you can protect yourself, your staff and your customers.

    1. HAVE A PLAN

    Mike Tyson once said: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” But it is far better to have a plan from which to deviate than to have nothing at all. Have a frame of reference from which you can react. This will lessen the decision making you and your staff will need to make in a high-stress situation.


    School children train regularly for potential emergencies, so consider doing the same. Have frequent trainings with your employees: practice self-defense tactics and go over the active shooter plan with all your employees on a frequent basis.


    Many people have no idea how they might react in a life-or-death situation like this. Most people think the first reaction would be to run, but observations show that is not true. Vuong says the typical reaction in this situation is to:

    • FREEZE Most people freeze in fear.
    • ANALYZE What is happening? Was that a gun shot or fireworks? What am I hearing?
    • DENY This can’t be happening to me, this isn’t real.
    • BIAS That sound is just fireworks or a car back firing.
    • REALIZATION Okay, this is really happening.
    • ACTION Time to do something: run, hide, or fight.

    Provide educational resources for your employees that will improve reaction time in this situation.


    • RUN Calmly with hands in the air . Police officers are trained to look at your hands to assess threats.
    • HIDE Either behind a large object (i.e. a refrigerator or freezer) or find a room and barricade the door (with a heavy object or an actual barricade if you have access).
    • FIGHT This is the last resort option, but if you must fight the FBI recommends holding nothing back. You can also access gun training resources to learn defense techniques that can prevent a gun from firing.



    This will either set off an alarm that will deter the shooter or activate a silent alarm that will notify the police.

    Unfortunately, it is a bit difficult to be truly prepared for an active shooter situation. Unlike schools and office buildings, grocery stores typically have a varying amount of people in the store at any given time of the day, which makes it difficult to practice drills and lockdowns like schools and offices can. However, that does not mean you should not have some sort of plan of action. Things will likely not go exactly how you planned and prepared, but having a plan provides some sort of structure, so make sure you come up with and practice a plan with all your employees on a frequent basis.

    Ultimately it is best to remember to:

    • HAVE A PLAN Have a frame of reference from which you can deviate. It’s better than starting with nothing.
    • PRACTICE THE PLAN Have frequent training with your employees: practice self-defense tactics, go over the active shooter plan with all your employees on a frequent basis.
    • EDUCATE YOUR STAFF Provide employees and customers with educational resources on how to be prepared: flyers, pamphlets, websites, seminar information, etc.
    • BE PREPARED TO ACT Hide. Fight.
    • INSTALL A PANIC BUTTON Either as an alarm to deter the shooter or a silent alarm to notify the police.

    Visit alerrt for training classes and more information on how you can be prepared.