How To Survive When SHTF At Work

To begin with: Happy Labour Day to all of our readers!

Now, there’s an old adage, I think it’s one of Murphy’s laws, and it reads something along the lines of: anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And, considering the title of the article, and the fact that it’s Labor Day, today we’ll try to mitigate survival at work issues, if there is such a thing to begin with. Because, after all, on a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. Especially if you work too much or for too long. Also, speaking of taking and assessing risks, I believe that most of us spend most of our time at work, or going to work, or getting home from work. The latter holds true especially for commuters.

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The point is, since we spend most of our (wake) time at work, there’s a good chance something unpleasant might happen at some point in time. And by unpleasant, considering that we’re on, we refer to something survival related. Say, you get injured while on Twitter, you break a fingernail in the keyboard or something, you get shadow-banned, or, God forbid, you spill the coffee all over yourself as you laugh while reading this article, and you require medical assistance, or tech support for your laptop. Or a lawyer, to sue your boss, or the coffee-maker for making the coffee too hot or too wet, or Twitter for distracting your attention, or us for making you LOL IRL. Anything goes nowadays. Bottom line, who knows what might happen at work, right?

Hence, today’s article is aimed at providing you with some hints, tips and tricks to help you mitigate a number of survival scenarios at work. And yes, I am really serious about this issue. So, let’s begin with the most probable survival-at-work related situations, shall we? 

Mass Shootings or Terrorist Attacks

The first thing that comes to mind with regard to survival at work, at least for me, as I am a news hound and I’m also into this racket (news-writing) for some time, besides giving bad advice to preppers, is … yeah, I bet (some of) you are thinking the same: work-place mass shootings/terrorist attacks or what have you.

Even if this type of workplace related incident is a relatively rare occurrence, just like school mass shootings are (if you’re a teacher or you work for your local school district in any way, shape of form, school shootings would qualify as examples for survival at work, right?), despite of what the mainstream media would make you believe by their obsessive coverage of such unfortunate events, it’s important from a survival perspective to know how to react if SHTF.

So, even if mass shootings are very, but very rare, what would you do if you’re at work and you hear gunshots, then people screaming right near your office? Or your class, cubicle or whatever? I know what the right prepper-approved answer would be: Chris, I would grab my every-day-carry-pal also known as Glock 17 from my holster, and run towards the gunfire, like a proper Joe Six Pack Rambo. Okay, that’s a nice thought, but the problem with mass shootings is that they usually take place in gun free zones, such as schools and churches.

Gun free zones are stupid if you ask me, but I don’t think you go to work packing heat, especially if you work in a corporation or in a school/hospital etc. So, what do you do to survive, when you’re literally involved in a gunfight carrying a coffee mug or a really heavy and solid-built smartphone as your weapon of choice? Okay, I know, you’re into kung-fu and all that, but never bring kung-fu to a gun-fight! Joke aside, the first thing to contemplate in active-shooter situations is spotting the danger, as in you should know how to discriminate between a gunshot sound and other similar noises (cars/motorcycles backfiring down the street, or firecrackers for example) by rhythm and cadence.

Gunfire usually follows a random pattern, as in non-rhythmic, as opposed to a nail-gun for example, or construction-work (jack-hammers and the like). Now, provided you’re not just panicking for absolutely no reason, the first “survival-amendment” in an active-shooter scenario at work, i.e. your top priority would be to exit the building safely. The only way to do that is to identify the danger properly, as in if the gunshots come from above, then exit the building the opposite way, by getting down the stairs that is. The second rule is to hide, if you cannot run. Most active-shooter situation last for approximately 5 minutes or less, as the shooter runs out of ammo or the police arrives at the scene. The idea is to improve your chances of survival by buying time by any means necessary, that until cavalry arrives. For example, you (and your bewildered colleagues) can build a fortress of sorts, by barricading yourself into a room and blocking the door using furniture and/or other stuff available (a refrigerator for example, which is also sort-of bullet-proof).

However, while in a room, even barricaded, you’re still vulnerable. Bullets can easily go through a wooden door, and even through fragile (like plaster) walls, so stay as low as possible (on your belly) after barricading the point of entrance into your “Safe Space”. If there’s no chance to run or hide, you should know that 13 percent of active shooters were successfully neutralized by their victims. I know, it’s not an encouraging percent, but it’s better to take your chance than to wait like a lemming to be executed by a nut-case or terrorist reloading his gun undisturbed. For example, if there are 10 (or more) people attacking simultaneously a lone shooter in a room, there’s a pretty good chance of succeeding, even if half of them may get shot or even killed. Failing to do that would make most probably for 10 out of 10 casualties, plus the shooter getting away with it and killing more people. You see where this is going, it’s common sense really. ‘Hold the line, stay with me, attack as a group’, to quote from classics.

Now, with the cool active-shooter scenario taken care of, I must address other survival at work situations. Survival is a pretty big word for scenarios like getting your finger hurt with your stapler, or pouring hot coffee all over you, or getting a cold from staying in an air conditioned room for too long, or falling down the stairs (okay, that can have serious consequences). You know those situations, it happened at least once to every one of us. The main thing to contemplate in such eventuality is pretty straight forward: always have a first-aid kit at your workplace, and, obviously, you should know a thing or two about providing first aid in various situations.

Big companies even have trained first aiders at workplace, but if it’s not the case in your particular situation, you can appoint one or more persons to take care of these things, i.e. to keep an eye on the first-aid kit, to keep it up to date (meds/gear have an expiration date too), and also to know how to provide CPR and things of that nature. To get the general idea about first aid kits, check out the ANSI standard (published in 2015), which can work as a guide of sorts. Also, keep in mind that there are 4 sizes of first aid kits: small, medium, large and Jumbo. Strike that, it’s travel size actually. The latter is for 1 person. A small size first aid kit for the workplace is for businesses with less than 25 employees. A medium sized first aid kit is for 25-100 employees, while a large one is for more than 100 employees. That should help, right?

Do you got the skills to survive a mass shooting event?

Depending on what type of work you are involved in, you must choose first aid kits that are fully stocked and readily available at all times, in order to treat injuries that do not require professional help. The first aid kit must be clearly visible at the workplace, easily accessible and to have a first-aid kit sign nearby. For example, you could keep them mounted to the wall, somewhere visible, or on a counter-top or whatever. Here’s a comprehensive list of items to be available in a decent first aid kit.

At least a couple of folks at work should know how to perform CPR. There are free-classes for that, just check it out with your local Red Cross offices or your Fire Department. Another idea would be to look it up on the internet. Moreover, in case of a fire emergency at the workplace, always be aware where the fire exits are, and assign someone to take care of the elderly and/or disabled, to account for everyone’s safety; also remember to hold fire drills once in a while. Just play it safe. Moreover, learn how to properly utilize a fire-extinguisher and only smoke in specially designated areas. The building evacuation-plans in case of an emergency should be posted somewhere in plain-sight, for everyone to see, and encourage your co-workers to take this matter seriously.

I hope the article helped and you had a good time reading it. If you have comments or ideas about how to improve one’s chances of survival at work, just let us know in the dedicated section below.

Stay safe and Happy Labour Day!

Written by

Chris Black is a born and bred survivalist. He used to work as a contractor for an intelligence service but now he is retired and living off the grid, as humanly possible. An internet addict and a gun enthusiast, a libertarian with a soft spot for the bill of rights and the Constitution, a free market idealist, he doesn't seem very well adjusted for the modern world. You can send Chris a message at editor [at]

Latest comments
  • Here are some good things to do to give you a better chance of surviving a workplace disaster (shooting, earthquake, blackout,, stranded by major snowstorm….): 1. always wear sensible shoes to work — you never know if your life might depend on being able to run from danger or walk over broken glass, 2: have at least one big flashlight and set a batteries for it in your desk or your work vehicle and a mini flashlight on your key ring,, 3. keep at work an extra charging cable for your mobile phone and make sure that phone is kept charged, 4 if you are on the kind of prescription mediation that you absolutely must take daily then keep three days of meds with you when at work, 5. if you have some storage space at work, keep a case of bottled water..

    • Hello Linda.
      Thank you for your comment, it truly is helpful!
      Alex, from Survivopedia 🙂

  • Yes number one everyone in the United States should get trained in proper use of a firearm. I’ve worked with Women for years and they often have a very cavalier attitude about never needing one… But that is not true. Also we find that women are more accurate in many ways and more focused when they train than even the men. Women need to get over this fear of believing it’s not OK to defend themselves with a defense of device If they are threatened. I love what Linda said above they are all great… But your initial staying safe had nothing to do with the powerful mindset that happens when you properly train with a firearm. I used to make fun of it as well even though I was raised with firearms in the Midwest. As a woman there is nothing more powerful than feeling like you have an ability to protect yourself in a threatening situation. The training I took in the practice I had has shifted my whole perspective on self protection. I hope this helps other women who read this. Thank you for putting this out as a very important topic of discussion.

  • You should have lots of water, non-perishable food, and changes of clothes (wool socks/gloves/sock hat with cooler weather coming), leather work gloves/vinyl gloves, sturdy walking shoes, a ball bat (weapon), a walking stick, paper/pencil/marker to leave clues/notes, a jacket, a blanket, and a Buddy Burner and supplies (to cook on from scouts), N.O.A.A. Weather/AM/FM Radio at work and in your vehicle for at least 3 days, always, just in case, as well as the already mentioned first aid kit/flashlight/batteries.

  • Also C-95 mask in your First Aid Kit.