What to do if there is an active threat on campus

In the event of a threat: Get out. Hide. Or — if you are trapped — fight.

McMaster students and staff will see new posters replacing lockdown signs across campus when they return from the holidays. The posters are part of a community-led safety update that maps out strategies if there is an active threat on campus.

Previously, students and staff were encouraged to lock down, or barricade themselves in a safe hiding place until the threat had passed. But in the event of a shooting or similar threat, the best plan is to get away from the scene as quickly as you can, safety experts say.

Universities across North America are updating their policies, encouraging students and staff to scope out exits so they can follow the “Get out. Hide. Fight” strategy.

“An active shooter or threat is extremely unlikely. But in any emergency, being prepared is the key to being safe,” says Sean Van Koughnett, Associate Vice-President for students and learning. “Knowing your options helps you take charge of your personal safety.”

Get out. Hide. Fight.
This is the new poster going up around campus to help students and staff figure out the best course of action in an emergency.

“The likelihood you will find yourself in this situation is extremely rare,” McMaster Students Union President Chukky Ibe says. “However, it could happen. We encourage you to think through the different scenarios. Ask yourself: What would I do in this situation?”

This video offers detailed information on what to do in the unlikely event of an active threat on campus:
Strategy 1 — Get Out: This is your first and best option. Scope out a safe exit and leave as fast as you can. Leave your belongings behind. Go somewhere safe and stay away until police say it’s safe to return.
Strategy 2 — Hide: If you’re unable to get out, barricade yourself in a safe space, turn off the lights, stay silent and don’t come out until police say you can.
Strategy 3 — Fight: This is the very last resort. Prepare to fight off an attacker only if you’re unable to get out or hide, and find yourself trapped. If you decide you must fight, be as aggressive as you can. Don’t negotiate. Incapacitate the attacker.

The change from lockdown to “Get Out. Hide. Fight” is part of a larger initiative to ensure the safety and well-being of all members of the campus community, Van Koughnett says.

The university is also updating the campus alert system for emergencies. A free app-based Alertus system is replacing the previous text-message alert for on-campus notifications. Learn more about the app here.

The text-message alert system will be used one final time on Jan. 5, to let the campus community know Security Services is testing emergency sirens around McMaster.

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