An active shooter is defined as one or more subjects who actively engage in killing or causing life-threatening injuries to multiple people in a confined and populated area. Active shooter situations are dynamic, evolve quickly and often end before law enforcement arrives at the scene. How you respond to an active shooter will be dictated by the specific circumstances of the encounter. If you find yourself in an active shooter situation, try to remain as calm as possible and use these suggested actions to help you plan a strategy for survival.

The University Police Department (UPD) provides safety videos on how to survive an active shooter situation. Note: A university NetID and password are required to view some videos.

Run. Hide. Fight.

(© 2012 City of Houston)

Should you ever find yourself in the middle of an active shooter incident, your survival may depend on whether or not you have a plan. The plan doesn't have to be complicated. There are three things you could do that make a difference: Run. Hide. Fight.


When an active shooter is in your vicinity:

  • If there is an escape path, attempt to evacuate.
  • Evacuate whether others agree to it or not.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Help others escape, if possible.
  • Prevent others from entering the area.
  • Call 911 when you are safe.


If an evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide and:

  • Lock and/or blockade the door.
  • Silence your cell phone.
  • Hide behind large objects.
  • Remain very quiet.

Your hiding place should:

  • Be out of the shooter's view.
  • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction.
  • Not trap or restrict your options for movement.


As a last resort, and only if your life is in danger:

  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
  • Act with physical aggression.
  • Improvise weapons.
  • Commit to your actions.

Arriving law enforcement's first priority is to engage and stop the shooter as soon as possible. Officers will form teams and immediately proceed to engage the shooter, moving towards the sound of gunfire.

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