You just heard a loud bang; now what? Should you assume it’s something harmless like a balloon pop or a backfiring car? Or should you take it more seriously and kick in your action plan?

Recognizing gunfire could save your life. Active shooter incidents usually conclude within 3-5 minutes, so from the time of the first shot you must act quickly to get to safety.

Recognizing gunfire is not as easy as it sounds. Many people mistake gunfire for pranks, accidents, fireworks, or other non-threats. This is because the gunfire we’re used to hearing on TV and in movies isn’t what real gunfire sounds like. Real gunfire sounds like a crack or sharp popping noise, similar to a firecracker.

It’s not surprising that the majority of shooting victims have no personal experience with guns, so they don’t recognize the sound. Even people who do use guns may not recognize the sound because they may only know what a gun sounds like from close range, away from the direction of the bullet, and through hearing protection.

The size of the gun and the location can impact the sound too. Large guns make a “boom” sound, while small guns make a “crack” sound. In a building, a gun will sound louder than it would if it were fired outdoors because the sound can amplify off the walls. Also remember that gunfire can be rhythmic, so if you hear cracks that aren’t rhythmic, it might not be gunfire. Don’t let that dissuade you from running to safety, though!

Determining the direction of gunfire is also difficult. Indoors, the sound can reverberate off the walls, making it hard to tell where the sound came from. Outdoors, the sound can echo off of tall structures, buildings, mountains, etc.

If you’re unsure where the gunfire came from, don’t let that impede your action plan. Run to the nearest exit, hide in a lockable room, and as a last resort when face to face with the shooter, fight for your life. Learn more about Run, Hide, Fight.

When you hear something that might sound like gunfire, always assume the worst. Remember that an active shooter event can happen anywhere at any time. Even if others aren’t phased by the noise, RUN. It’s easy to think “it’ll never happen to me,” but if it does and you aren’t prepared, you might not survive.

Learn to Recognize Gunfire and More in TPOP’s Active Shooter Online Training

TPOP’s active shooter online training can teach you and your employees how to recognize gunfire, use the Run, Hide, Fight methodology, and respond to injuries during an active shooter event. You will also learn situational awareness, violent behavioral indicators, and verbal de-escalation techniques.

Let’s talk about your company’s training needs today.