How to avoid stray bullets


1. The best way is to be somewhere else when the shooting starts: If you can see some conflict is getting out of control and fear gun play is next, scram! Get out of there and go somewhere else.
2. Avoid going places where gunfire is/has been frequent or is expected to be.
3. If you hear gunfire drop to the ground, stay low and seek cover: Cover is something that stops bullets. Things that hide you from view but don’t stop bullets are called concealment. Don’t assume parts of building are cover as they may only be facades that emulate something solid (i.e. decorative columns). Don’t dawdle. Move!
4. As soon as you find cover, look around for better cover and/or an escape route that offers cover along the way: Identify the source or direction of the gunfire and move away from it if you can. Laterally is best (i.e. down a side street) or getting inside a concrete building (then look for a rear exit).
5. Vehicles are not entirely cover: To a bullet they’re mostly empty space interrupted by easily penetrated thin barriers. If you take cover behind a vehicle, put the engine between you and the source of gunfire and position yourself behind a wheel & tire. If you can’t hide behind the engine, a wheel & tire offer fairly good protection if you can scrunch down enough.
6. Beware of ricochets: Bullets do not “bounce” off walls like a billiard ball rebounding off a cushion or a basketball thrown at a wall. When bullets strike a hard surface they will deform slightly and stay that way. The result is the bullet tends to travel parallel along the hard surface between 5–18 away from it, in the general direction it was fired. For instance, if you hide behind a car across the street and I can see your feet, I can aim at the pavement between me and the car, ricochet the bullet off the pavement, under the car into your feet or ankles. If you just barely peek around the corner of a sturdy building and a bullet strikes the wall feet away from you, it could still hit your head. Worst place to look around the corner is at sidewalk level since a hit on either the wall or sidewalk could still hit you. Kneeling and leaning down a few inches is probably best but still has some risk.
7. Stay alert and keep your head & eyes moving Your head needs to be on a swivel. Don’t just look, but see things. Watch for accomplices or opponents of the shooter. A man walking calmly when there is gunfire may be either. That abandoned backpack/daypack on the street or sidewalk may have been dropped by someone who panicked. Or it could be an explosive device left by the shooter. Distance is your friend.

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