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Surviving a Terror Attack

A simplified definition of terrorism is 'a coerced unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property'.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) extends this statement by adding that in fact, terrorism also involves intimidation or coercion of the civilian population, their government, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

HOW TO SURVIVE A TERRORIST ATTACK: This lawlessness section highlights the rules and recommendations issued by the UK government and law enforcement in situations where you may need to respond safely to a terrorist attack.

Advice also comes from the National Counter Terrorism Security Office. NaCTSO in the United Kingdom offers guidance to the public regarding safety and survival.

Public Disorder Guidance

Official guidance on how to stay safe was released in the wake recent horrific terror attacks and acts of public disorder and violence.

Having seen the security threat level rise to ‘Severe’ (which means an attack is highly likely), the Government and the National Counter Terrorism Security Office offered the following information for anyone who is attacked by a reign of terror at home, at work, or anywhere outdoors. These scare tactics may be directly at the site or in the immediate vicinity.

In the event of a severe firearms or weapons attack the ‘Stay Safe’ principles of Run, Hide, Tell, are explained as follows.


  • Escape if you can by considering 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 and leave your belongings behind.


  • If you cannot RUN, HIDE by finding cover from gunfire.
  • Beware, if you can see the attacker, they may be able to see you.
  • Cover from view does not mean you are safe, bullets penetrate glass, brick, wood, and metal.
  • Find cover from gunfire (e.g. substantial brickwork or heavy reinforced walls).
  • Be aware of your exits and try not to get trapped.
  • Be quiet, silence your phone, and lock or barricade yourself in but move away from the door.


  • Call the police and they will need to know:
    • Location – Where are the suspects?
    • Direction – Where did you last see the suspects?
    • Descriptions – Describe the attacker, numbers, features, clothing, ammunition, weapons, etc.

Note: You may be questioned for further information such as the location of casualties, type of injuries, building information, entrances, exits, and hostages etc. Try to stop other people entering the building if it is safe to do so and protect yourself, your staff, your business, and your community.

Armed Response Officers

When armed police or tactical response officers arrive on the scene the government advises you to remain calm and follow the officers’ instructions. If you can move to a safer area avoid sudden movements that may be considered a threat and keep your hands in view.

Armed Officers may:

  • Point guns at you and treat you firmly or question you.
  • Be unable to distinguish you from the attackers.
  • Evacuate you when it is safe to do so and help you to stay safe.

Surviving Grenade Attacks

As a rule a grenade attack would be unanticipated in a typical act or terror, however, here are the recommended guidelines for surviving a bombardment of shells and grenades.

  • If the grenade lands within three steps of your position, get behind cover.
  • If no cover is available, take two big steps away from the blast and fall to the ground.
  • Assume proper body posture, with your feet toward the grenade, legs crossed, belly and face down, elbows in tight, hands over ears, and your mouth open.

Surviving a terror attack = the most basic practices can be the biggest life savers.

Dynamic Lockdown

Dynamic lockdown is the ability to quickly restrict access and egress to a site or building (or part of) through physical measures in response to a threat, either external or internal.

The aim of lockdown is to prevent people moving into danger areas and preventing or frustrating the attackers accessing a site (or part of). It is recognised that due to their nature some sites may not be able to physically achieve lockdown.

How to Survive a Terror Attack in the United Kingdom