Attacks in Public Places

Sometimes, a person or group will use force of violence against people or property for the purposes of intimidation, coercion, ransom, or causing fear. These people or groups, or terrorists, use a wide variety of targets, tactics, and means to cause harm.

An attack upon the United States is extremely unlikely, though the potential for such a nation-wide event does exist. However, terrorism can take many forms, on small or large scales.

Examples of types of terrorism include: 

  • An active shooter using firearms to cause mass casualties
  • Individuals using a vehicle to cause mass casualties
  • Individuals using homemade bombs to cause mass casualties
  • Other methods of mass attacks may include knives, fires, drones or other weapons

Before an Attack

In general, you should also take the following precautionary measures: 

  1. Be alert and aware of your surroundings. 
  2. Learn where emergency exits are located at school.
  3. Learn first aid so you can help those with injuries before responders arrive.

During an Attack

There are three steps of what to do during an attack in a public place:

Run to Safety

  • Seek safety. Getting away from the attacker is the top priority.
  • Leave your belongings behind and get away.
  • Call 9-1-1 when you are safe and describe the attacker, location and weapons.

Cover and Hide

  • If you can’t run away safely, cover and hide. Find a place to hide out of view of the attacker and if possible, put a solid barrier between yourself and the threat.
  • Lock and block doors, close blinds and turn off lights.
  • Keep silent.

Fight Back

  • Fight only as a last resort. When you can’t run or cover, attempt to disrupt the attack or disable the attacker. Do what you need to do in order to keep yourself safe.
Remember the three steps to staying safe during a public attack: run, hide, fight.

After an Attack

After an attack, take care of yourself first and then, if you are able, help the wounded get to safety and provide care.

Call 9-1-1 if you don't know whether or not help is on the way.

Talk with your loved ones about what happened. Sometimes attacks in public places can be really scary, and it's important to talk with an adult about how you feel so they can help you feel safe.


There are activity sheets about staying safe in public in the Williamson Kids Coloring and Activity book.