How to Barricade a Door

Updated: Feb 25, 2019

Active shooters are an unfortunate part of our world, and sadly, learning how to defend against them has become a life-skill. One of the simplest yet most important things you can learn is how to barricade a door properly. While it may not seem like much at first, barricading the door properly can mean the difference between life and death. Most active shooter situations are over in five minutes or less, so the most important trick is learning how to buy time. Seconds can save lives.

Barricading a door sounds simple enough, but have you thought through the wide range of doors you may have to barricade? Does it swing in or out? Does it lock? Is it a heavy door? Is it metal or wood or glass? Does it have a window? What kind of hinge does it have? All of these things come into play when learning how to barricade a door.

The idea behind barricading a door is to create levels of resistance behind it. If the door locks, lock it first and foremost. Because active shooters are typically after the most kills possible in less than five minutes, they will often bypass a locked door in favor of softer targets. If your door opens inward, the best barricading method is to stack heavy furniture against it so that it will not open. Keep a heavy file cabinet next to the door to slide into place. Stack desks and chairs against them and shove doorstops underneath. If the door has a window, cover it with something. Then move away from the door. The idea behind this is that even if the shooter can open the door, he still cannot see into the room.

If your door opens outward, note the hinges. If you have a piano hinge at the top of the door, use a leather belt to wrap around it and secure the door. You can also slide a hollow tin can over the hinge or use a cinch strap (used for moving furniture in trailers). Cover any windows in the door, and stack desks and chairs and filing cabinets in front to block the shooter’s view.

If necessary (you cannot run and there is nowhere to hide), you may have to fight the shooter. In this case, barricading the door is a crucial move. Barricade as heavily as possible and then take up arms with a fire extinguisher, trophy, or any other heavy, blunt object. Hide around the corner and ambush the shooter upon entry. Aim for the shooter rather than the gun. Once the shooter is down, move the gun away from him but DO NOT hold onto it. Get rid of it. When officers come in, they are looking for a person with a gun, and they have no idea that you are not the shooter.

Active shooter situations are terrifying. The idea that someone would be so self-consumed that they could murder fellow coworkers, students, or even strangers is incomprehensible to most people. However, while we cannot necessarily understand, we can prepare; and the more prepared we are, the safer we are. Active shooters look for soft targets, so every step you make in preparation makes you a harder target and protects the people around you a little more. Learning to properly barricade a door is simply a logical step towards hardening yourself to active shooters.

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