How to protect yourself during a terror attack

On Tuesday afternoon, suspected terrorists attacked Dusit hotel complex in Nairobi leaving 14 people dead and scores injured. Somali based terror group, Al- Shabaab claimed responsibility of the attack which

  • PublishedJanuary 16, 2019

On Tuesday afternoon, suspected terrorists attacked Dusit hotel complex in Nairobi leaving 14 people dead and scores injured.

Somali based terror group, Al- Shabaab claimed responsibility of the attack which came on the third anniversary of the El- Adde assault.

After close to 16 hours of rescue operation, President Kenyatta has confirmed that all the terrorists engaged in the attack have been neutralised and lauded Kenyans for their patriotism and courage in the wake of the attack.

“The security operation at Dusit complex is over and all the terrorists eliminated. As of this moment we have confirmation that 14  innocent lives were lost through the hands of these terrorists.We are grieving as a country and my heart and that of every Kenyan goes out to innocent men and women violated by senseless violence,” said President Uhuru.

Following several attacks in our country, we resolve to be proactive not reactive. Below are ways we can respond to an active shooter at work or in public places.

According to the US department of Homeland Security, an Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. The security body advises the below actions to be taken during a shooting attack.


The first step you should do when you find yourself caught up in such a situation is to try and escape from the scene as quick as possible. Evacuate whether people agree with you or not and do not try to carry any belongings. On a preventive note, always familiarize yourself with exit points in malls, public places and your office which will help you escape quickly incase of any attack as opposed to scampering aimlessly trying to look for the best route.


if it is not possible to escape, you may want to find the nearest hiding place and lie down. Your hideout should be away from the shooter’s view and should provide protection against shots. You should also turn off the lights, lock the door and block it with heavy furniture if you can. Once inside, put your phone on silent and communicate with the police or friends using text. the most important information you should share is the location of the attack, number of attackers, number and type of weapons they have and also a rough estimate of potential victims at the location. Avoid going on social media and posting your whereabouts as this may reveal where you are to the terrorists.


As a last resort and when your life is in absolute danger should you attempt to deal with your aggressor. Grab a chair, some scissors or anything close to you that you can use as a weapon and throw it at the aggressor. If you are hiding as a group, attacking the terrorist should be a group effort.

What to do when the police arrive

Try and keep calm and follow their instructions to the letter. Ensure that your hands are visible to the police and  drop any items that you may be holding to the floor.

Other proactive ways in which we can protect ourselves and those around us on a daily basis and not necessarily during an active shooter attack are listed below.


Do not wear sunglasses that obstruct you from full view of your surrounding or compromise your depth perception. Also avoid wearing earphones blasting loud music so loud that you can’t hear sirens or pedestrians screams.

Protect your space

Whether at home or in a hotel, lock the doors.  Lock the doors of your office if you feel threatened during time of crisis and dial 911. Lock your car doors since most of the terror attacks involve hijacking cars while escaping.

Protect your health

Always carry your essential with you. If you are medication always have it on you.  If you are planning to spend your day in a crowded place such as a concert event, carry water. You never know how long you will be delayed as you take hostage.

Be your brother’s keeper

This is particularly because the terrorist are often watching you and your neighbor as they case who to attack from homes to businesses. Be part of a civilian coalition of counter surveillance by staying alert, functioning as the eye and year of law enforcement on the ground.

Safety training for employees

Employers should always not only be prepared to help the affected employees but also prepare and teach their workers what to do in the event of a terror attack. During orientation, employees ought to be taught on safe handling and delivering of letters and packages, travel and transportation guidelines, security of the workplace facilities, protecting business computer system and being patient, alert and ready. Employers can also embrace technology by using apps,  and installing security cameras to know to boost security. Apps like InsidentEye has specifically been to help organization locate and protect employees as quickly and effectively as possible during emergencies. InsidentEye maintains privacy by notifying employees whenever their location is collected. When an incident is active, monitors can view employees’ safety status in real time and respond accordingly.

No one wants to live fear. Therefore we all should learn how to be proactive as a means of curbing terror.


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