5 Tips to keep your family safe in a mall shooting

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Here are important safety reminders to keep in mind to be prepared in case of an emergency while malling with your loved ones

Filipino families spend most of the weekend in malls. It’s where we eat, shop, bond, watch movies, pay bills, and for some, it’s where they go to church. So the recent shooting at SM Southmall in Las Piñas hit close to home for many of us, who view the mall as a place to go for fun and bonding.

As a parent, you know that the mall, though indoors, isn’t the safest place, so you’re always on your guard. Reports on kidnappings and thefts are no longer surprising, but what if you’re caught in the crossfire of a mall shooting?

TheAsianparent Philippines reached out to Facebook user Shandii Bacolod, who experienced the shooting firsthand.

“What started as a beautiful, fun family reunion became a traumatic night for all of us. As we are finishing (our food), we heard a gun shot, then another one. Then there was a stampede, people crying and screaming and running, and someone shouted “May binaril” (Someone was shot!),” he recounted. “The adults, without hesitation, picked up the kids and went out. I tried not to panic as I counted the kids, making sure everyone’s with us. We basically ran for our lives! All I could hear is myself saying “Lord please, not the kids,” as I prayed that the gunman was not behind us and do a shooting spree!”

Thankfully, none of Shandii’s family members were hurt, but the shooting left Pasay councilor Borbie Rivera, 39, dead. Inquirer.net reports he was shot in the mall’s parking lot, a little over a month since he survived an ambush.

photo: wikimapia (SM Southmall)

Here are safety tips to remember to keep your family safe in the event of a mall shooting.

1. Know your exits

Each time you enter a mall, be aware of your surroundings, especially the nearest exit—at all times. Don’t be distracted by your phone or whatever activity you planned to do in the mall. Be observant, and keep away from those who look suspicious.

2. Hide and keep quiet

If you’re trapped and can’t exit safely during a shooting, hide and be sure to keep quiet. Remember to keep your phone in silent mode or shut it off, so as not to draw the shooter’s attention in case it rings. If you are able to find a room to hide in, make sure it’s locked and barricaded. Shut off the lights and keep quiet until the shooting is over.

Remember: avoid hiding in bathrooms, as these are one of the first places a shooter will look for potential victims.

3. Know when to run or fight

Assess the situation; is your nearest exit in sight? Then, the best option is to run towards it as fast as you can. Do not look back, just run to the nearest exit without hesitation. If you are carrying heavy bags or packages, drop them, to allow yourself to run faster. Carry small children, using your body as a shield.

If an exit is nowhere in sight and the shooter is approaching you, use whatever you can to distract him. Do not try to take on an armed man or woman unless you are confident you are capable of doing so, or are armed yourself.

4. Help others when you can

Though it’s important to keep you and your family safe, there might be instances when you can help others. For example, if you see someone too stunned to move, help them snap out of it and drag them to the nearest exit. If you see someone wounded, bring them to a safe place before you perform first aid, but only if you have the means to, until help arrives.

5. Call authorities if you get the chance

Make sure your cellphones are charged at all times, and bring a spare power bank to use in case of an emergency. Only call when you’re certain you’re out of the shooter’s earshot. Remember: the first priority is to make sure you are safe, then call Philippine emergency hotline 911 when you can.

sources: Inquirer.net, LifeHacker, Everyday Health

READ: 6 Ways to keep children safe while in the mall