Skip to content

Active threat/shooter guide

Safety tips

Although active threats are rare, it’s important to take time to prepare for a situation in which your safety could depend on your ability to react quickly.

An active threat is any situation that poses an immediate danger to the safety of University of Washington students, faculty, staff and visitors. In addition to using firearms (active shooter), other types of weapons can be used in active threat situations.

Active threat situations are jarring and unpredictable. Each situation will be different, and you must act quickly to protect yourself.


  • Sign up for UW Alert text messages.
  • Know your exits in classrooms and other places.
  • If you see behavior that is an immediate safety concern, call 911.
    Students and employees at the UW in Seattle can call the UW Police non-emergency number at 206-685-8973 (UWPD) TTY. Anonymous tips can be submitted anytime to UW Police at 206-685-8477.
  • If you or others experience concerning behaviors, call SafeCampus, no matter where you work or study, at 206-685-7233. All calls are private. You can remain anonymous.


Illustration showing running, hiding, and fighting in response to an active threat.

Run: Escape if you can

  • Seek safety. Getting away from the attacker is the top priority.
  • Leave your belongings behind and get away.
  • Call 911 when you are safe and describe the attacker, location and weapons.

Hide: Cover and hide if you can’t evacuate

  • Find a place to hide out of view of the attacker and put a solid barrier between yourself and the threat if possible.
  • Lock and block doors, close blinds and turn off lights.
  • Keep silent. Silence cell phones.

Fight: If you must, fight back

  • Fight only as a last resort. When you can’t run or hide, attempt to disrupt the attack or stop the attacker.
  • Be aggressive and commit to your actions.
  • Recruit others to ambush the attacker with makeshift weapons such as chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, books, etc.
  • Be prepared to cause severe or lethal injury to the attacker.
  • If you have disarmed the attacker, do not pick up the weapon. If you do, you may be seen as a threat when authorities arrive.
  • Call 911 when safe to do so.

Be safe after

The focus for police is to locate the threat and end the violence. Upon arrival, officers will secure the area so that emergency medical teams can reach the injured.

  • Remain calm and follow law enforcement instructions.
  • Keep hands visible and empty.
  • If you witnessed the incident and left the area, contact UWPD.

Learn more

FEMA Training – Active Shooter: What You Can Do
This Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) course provides guidance so you can prepare to respond to an active shooter situation. The free training is offered online.

A video option that focuses on a campus environment is this active threat video prepared by New York University.