The secret weapon in an active shooter situation

This might be an odd forum to talk about defending yourself from an active shooter, but I feel compelled to bring this up today. It affects everyone – whether you work in an office, a coffee shop, or your own home, you spend some time out in public at some point in your week. And even if you’re a complete hermit, it doesn’t guarantee that violence won’t find you.

With the tragedy that recently happened in a workplace in Orlando, FL, where five people were killed by a disgruntled former worker, I feel like I want to shout out to my friends and the world to take active shooter training. Because if they did, they’d at least have a fighting chance if this type of situation ever happens to them.

But if you haven’t had a chance to take this kind of training, I hope you remember this one thing I’m about to tell you. Please pay attention: In every public place, there is a weapon you can use if necessary. What I’m talking about is the common fire extinguisher. From this moment on, whenever you are out in public, whether it’s a shopping mall, the grocery store, or your workplace, I want you to pay attention to where the closest fire extinguisher is located. It could be the difference between cowering in fear or being ready to stop a killer before they can harm you.

According to most experts, including the Department of Homeland Security, you should respond to an active shooter situation by doing one of the following actions: run, hide, fight. Run first, if you can, to get away from the situation and from immediate danger. Hide next, if you’re further away or if you can’t run away for whatever reason. Last, if you cannot run and cannot hide, you should try to fight. This is where the fire extinguisher comes in.

How does a fire extinguisher help? There are several different kinds of fire extinguishers to fight different kinds of fires, but what they all have in common is that their fire-fighting material is under great pressure. When you squeeze that handle, whatever is inside will come rushing out quickly and painfully to anyone nearby. When you’re finished spraying, you can use the weight and power of the extinguisher canister itself to bash the bad guy’s head if he’s still standing.

So here’s what I suggest: Run if you can. Get away from the danger. Hide if you cannot run. But on your way to your hiding place, grab the closest fire extinguisher you see. While you’re hiding, pull out the pin so you can be ready to shoot in case the bad guy finds your hiding place. I hope and pray that you don’t have to use it, but if you’re found, you can defend yourself and anyone hiding with you.

The best part is you don’t even have to be very close to the guy for this defense to be effective. Fire extinguishers are designed to be deployed from five to seven feet away from a fire, so you can be the same distance from the shooter when you squeeze that trigger. And keep squeezing that trigger until the can is empty. Then swing that empty can like you’re Babe Ruth aiming for the upper stands. Once the bad guy is incapacitated, RUN.

I could go on, but I don’t want to water down this message. Be aware of the closest exits and the closest fire extinguishers at all times. Once you start paying attention to these things, you’ll find that it becomes second nature. One last note for the hermits: Make sure you have a fire extinguisher at home. Keep it easy to grab in the event of an emergency. That way, whether the emergency is from overdone cookies flaming in the oven or an intruder in the middle of the night, you can get to your fire extinguisher easily.

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