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Where to Hide with Kids in Public


It’s the blog post I didn’t want to write. It came to me after Newtown. I pushed it aside. I didn’t want to think about it. I knew as a mom I should, but I didn’t want to. Now here in the wake of Orlando, it’s here again. All the places we consider sacred are at risk. Our kids safe places no longer seem safe. As my boys played soccer tonight I couldn’t help thinking, “What would happen if a shooter ran onto the field? What if running was too risky? Would I know where to hide with kids, my kids?”


Public shootings are happening and way too often. I can’t wrap my head around it. I feel helpless. And yet as a mom I feel I need to be prepared. It is my job to protect my boys and to help them prepare for the world around them, the good and the bad. I am always out with my kids. We go to the movies. We go to malls. We go to church. We are always out in public. We go places to spend time together. We go places to come back and let our readers know how much fun they can be. I don’t want to think about anything horrific happening, but if we know anything we know that it’s what we do and where we hide in those first moments that can make a difference.


Where to hide with kids in public


I hate having to think about this, but I think just as I prepare for what my kids should do if we get separated at a public space, I need to start thinking about where I would hide with them. Running away isn’t always possible. I need to start entering a store, an amusement park, any location with the thought of where would I hide my boys if a shooter appeared. It’s with that in mind that I wanted to share my suggestions of where to hide with kids in public. I’ve thought about the places we go in a routine day as well as those unique field trips. I hope you never need this list, but I also hope that in reading it you feel that you have some ideas to help in a helpless situation.


Where to Hide with Kids in Public


Upon entering a location or a new area, always try to identify where the nearest emergency exits are. Teach your kids that in a dangerous situation this is where they want to run to and get to, if they can get there safely. They shouldn’t look behind them to see where you are. They should just run. Talk about where a safety spot can be outside the perimeter of that area that you can all meet up at if separated.


A note about cell phones and smart devices

First, turn off any ringers or notifications to your phones or smart devices that might sound with incoming calls or text messages. Don’t let it be your phone that gives off your location with a beep or a ring. Then, when you are secure in your location call or text 911 for help.


A note about hiding with kids in bathrooms

Consider that depending on the motive of the shooter the bathroom might be a location the shooter seeks out victims. If a bathroom is where you must retreat, get there but then think smart about it. Can you lock the door to the main bathroom entrance? Is there a storage closet you can hide in? Does the storage closet have items that can possibly be used as a weapons? Brooms, cleaning sprays, mop buckets, can substitute for weapons in this kind of situation. If hiding in a stall, lock the door, keep your feet off the ground. Perhaps choose a stall with a changing table, put a kid on the changing table. Is there a window you and the kids can get out of?


Where to hide with kids in the grocery store

  • Behind service counters
  • In the back departments like bakery, deli, meat, dairy departments
  • On store shelves behind the food or grocery items
  • In the center of palettes with food items surrounding you
  • Offices if you can lock and block the door once inside.
  • Cabinets at customer service desk


Where to hide with kids in the warehouse club/ wholesale club

Same as above, but consider these options as well since the warehouse clubs tend to be larger

  • Go up, consider if its possible to climb up higher above the shooter’s range of vision and hide behind stocked items.
  • Underneath table tops with stocked items surrounding you to block your appearance
  • Inside columns of tires
  • Inside empty trash barrels
  • Inside large plastic colored containers or luggage just make sure to keep them open enough to get air without being seen or too noticeable
  • Inside furniture: wardrobe closets, coffee tables, closets, filing cabinets
  • Inside playhouses, playground structures, tents


Where to hide with kids in clothing /department stores

Some of the above may also apply.

  • Inside round clothing racks, go into the center of them.
  • Fitting rooms, keep feet and items off the floor.
  • Storage room, go as far back as possible. Climb shelves if safe.
  • In storage cabinets on the store floor.
  • Inside furniture, trash cans, storage gins, luggage making sure to leave a way to breathe


Where to hide with kids at the soccer fields

  • Underneath cars
  • In empty trash cans
  • Storage areas of the concession stand
  • Underneath bleachers (if it’s possible not to be seen)
  • Flatbed area of trucks
  • Inside open cars (making sure not to be visible through windows)
  • In the forest
  • In ditches
  • Inside playground structures


Where to hide with kids at amusement parks, zoos, aquariums

  • Ride cars (remaining low)
  • Snack stands (consider cabinets, storage areas)
  • Back of the house areas
  • In greenery
  • Consider performance theaters/stages. Are there nooks and crannies, dressing rooms, areas below the stage?
  • Gift shops (within clothing racks, behind large displays or stacks of clothing)
  • Behind signage or exhibits
  • Inside playground or playhouse structures
  • In empty trash cans


Where to hide with kids at the movie theater

  • Underneath seats
  • In the highest row, low to the ground
  • In the projection area if accessible
  • Between walls and step and repeat signage or behind other signage
  • Behind snack counters not being used
  • In storage areas
  • Behind video games
  • In empty trash cans


Where to hide with kids at restaurants

  • In the kitchen,
    • In cabinetry where you are not easily seen
    • Chilled areas or pantries if temperature does not pose a threat
    • Underneath sinks
    • Behind shelving
  • Small kids might fit in the hostess stand
  • Under the bar in storage areas


Where to hide with kids at the airport

  • Behind service counters and ticket desks
  • In back hidden areas of restaurants or gift shops
  • Under the bar in storage areas in restaurant areas
  • In VIP airline lounges
  • In bathroom hidden areas
  • In terminal areas that lead between planes and the ticket counter
  • In baggage claim areas look for where the luggage comes out and go through there to hide or get out
  • Inside luggage or trash cans making sure to leave a way to breathe


What other suggestions do you have? Where else have we not thought of?


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Friday 17th of June 2016

In active shooter training I've had through work, they always recommend blockading the door or entry to a hiding place if possible. Moving furniture, trash cans, and any heavy objects in front of door, especially if it does lock, can help to deter a shooter. Then you should hide as far away from the entry door as possible. Also, playing dead or injured can be a last resort and probably a good option for kids who are unlikely to succeed in fighting off a shooter.

I am my childrens Mother

Thursday 16th of June 2016

Lets not forget about airports...where the area is open and difficult to find a hiding spot. Alhought there are many stores and bathrooms passed security screening. Stay safe...if you see something say something! Good job....

Jennifer A.

Thursday 16th of June 2016

Good point! Thanks for helping us think of that. I will be updating this post to reflect some ideas for there. - Jenn


Thursday 16th of June 2016

I also find myself searching for nearest exits or think about where to go if a shooter came in. I have a 6 and 3 year old. There's no way they would be quiet when hiding. Little kids will scream, panic, and maybe even run. Some spots u mention would be good, but not if you have little ones. I hate that this is the world that we live in.


Wednesday 4th of October 2017

Tara, have you come up with any ideas? I have a 14 month old and she would definitely cry. It terrifies me that we can't hide if (god forbid) we were in a bad situation.

Jennifer A.

Thursday 16th of June 2016

I know, it's so sad. - Jenn

Pamela Cipparulo

Wednesday 15th of June 2016

I learned during Active asShooter training that paper- bookshelves, file cacabinets, proide the greatest protection from bullets.

Jennifer A.

Wednesday 15th of June 2016

Great points! Thanks Pamela. - Jenn

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