What should you do in the event of a terror attack? - Urbansome.com
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What should you do in the event of a terror attack?

First of all, I would like say that I genuinely hope that none of us will ever have to use any of these tips in our lives. However, after the events in Paris on 13/11/2015 and consequent events in Brussels and other cities, many countries have set their terrorist threat levels to “severe”, which means that a terrorist attack is very likely at any time.

Even though intelligence forces are working non-stop to prevent adversities like that, recent events and history has shown that attack might target people who least expect it in locations that any of us can be in at any time.

As most terror attacks happen in big cities, let’s have a look at the advice given by police officials.

What normally happens?

Most of the time people who are not expecting gunshots or explosions will not understand what is going on and will naturally ignore it. That can be fatal. Honestly, let’s face it, how many of us look at the fire exits in venues we have never been to before? How many of us react to every sound outside when we are in the middle of a bustling city? Now, you do not have to become paranoid, but extra precautions will not hurt you.

When it all starts happening, because of the horrific situation they are in and the shock, many people tend to lose their sanity and reduce their chances of survival drastically. Shocked victims listen to their basic instinct and try to escape without properly assessing the surroundings and chances of success. They just stand up and run, which makes them an easy target for terrorists.

Statistically only 15% of people will respond in a way that might actually help them.

Let’s have a look at what type of actions are those.


After Paris attacks earlier this month, British counter terrorist unit have released a guide which should help you in case you are caught in a ‘firearms or weapons’ attack. Even though the release encourages to use a technique called “Run, hide and tell” it is not as straight forward as it might sound because of the reason I mentioned above. Do not forget – if you can see the terrorist, terrorist can see you.

Police stresses out that even though the first option should always be escaping, any tiny mistake can be fatal. Although Hollywood movies have portrayed items like car doors or wooden tables as bullet proof, the reality is in fact quite the opposite. It can hide you from the sight of attackers, however, it does not mean you are safe – bullets go straight through.

Here is what counter terror unit recommends in case your are caught up in such an adversity:

Stay Safe

Firearms and weapons attack

‘Stay Safe’ principles (Run Hide Tell) give some simple actions to consider at an incident and the information that armed officers may need in the event of a firearms and weapons attack. Full guidance is contained on the NaCTSO website https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/recognising-the-terrorist-threat.


  • Escape if you can.
  • Consider the safest options.
  • Is there a safe route? RUN if not HIDE.
  • Can you get there without exposing yourself to greater danger?
  • Insist others leave with you. Leave belongings behind.


  • If you can’t RUN, HIDE.
  • Find cover from gunfire.
  • If you can see the attacker, they may be able to see you.
  • Cover from view does not mean you are safe, bullets go through glass, brick, wood and metal.
  • Find cover from gunfire e.g. substantial brickwork / heavy reinforced walls.
  • Be aware of your exits.
  • Try not to get trapped.
  • Be quiet, silence your phone.
  • Lock / barricade yourself in.
  • Move away from the door.


Call 999 (or an alternative number in the country you are in) – What do the police need to know?

  • Location – Where are the suspects?
  • Direction – Where did you last see the suspects?
  • Descriptions – Describe the attacker, numbers, features, clothing, weapons etc.
  • Further information – Casualties, type of injury, building information, entrances, exits, hostages etc.
  • Stop other people entering the building if it is safe to do so.

Armed Police Response

  • Follow officers’ instructions.
  • Remain calm.
  • Can you move to a safer area?
  • Avoid sudden movements that may be considered a threat.
  • Keep your hands in view.

Officers may

  • Point guns at you.
  • Treat you firmly.
  • Question you.
  • Be unable to distinguish you from the attacker.
  • Officers will evacuate you when it is safe to do so.

You must STAY SAFE

  • What are your plans if there were an incident?
  • What are the local plans? e.g. personal emergency evacuation plan.

As I mentioned above, I genuinely hope and believe that you will never have to use any of that, but knowing this will not hurt anyone.

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