The recent spike in mass shootings like the the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora has changed the once wholesome carefree movie night experience into a potentially worrying activity. Just a couple of weeks ago, a man was mercilessly gunned down by a fellow moviegoer for texting inside a theater in Florida. Random instance of violence like these, are becoming a serious concern for avid movie fans.
Lately, many of us find ourselves weary around public places, especially in the pitch black rooms of the movie theater. While it is always a good idea to be cautious and vigilant in public places, feeling insecure in the movie theater can really take away the thrill and excitement of watching a much anticipated movies.
Here are a few tips for movie operators as well as moviegoers to keep a little piece of mind in the movie theater. While none of us can predict when and where violence will strike, we can all actively take part to keep the theater safer.
For Movie Theater Owners and Operators:
1. Have A Plan
As the person in charge of theater operations, you’ve got to be prepared for any type of situation, including those that we don’t like to think about. In the event of an attack threat on your theater and its patrons, what are you going to do? Have an emergency plan that includes a way to warn and secure your moviegoers, evacuate people from your establishment when necessary, a strategy in event of a lockdown, and a way to communicate your need for urgent assistance with police departments, fire departments, and medics.
Make it a point to pre-program your emergency alarms and business phone systems to automatically notify your onsite security patrol guards, your employees, the people in your establishment, and the corresponding authorities in the event of an emergency. Test these systems periodically to make sure they are always reliable.
2. Train Employees On How To Handle An Emergency
Training your staff on a regular basis will drastically increase the chance of execution for your emergency plan. In the event of an emergency, trained employees are less likely to panic. They will be able to react sharply against the chaos, and will be able to assist the shaken crowd. Conduct emergency drills regularly until it becomes second nature to your staff. Make sure that every employee knows every part of your emergency protocol well, especially who and how to call police and onsite security patrol backup when necessary.
3. Keep The Aisles Clear
Check every theater room thoroughly, before and after a screening. Have your staff make rounds in every room during the movie to make sure the aisles are clear of people and belongings and that all safety codes are being upheld. Ensure that the emergency exits are not obstructed.
4. Hire Onsite Security Guards
To ensure the safety of your patrons, look into security guard companies that specialize in onsite security guard service for commercial establishments. Having onsite security guards in your establishment can intimidate potential attackers and ward them off your theater. You should also hire onsite security guard patrol to monitor the surroundings outside your vicinity.
In the event of violence, onsite security guards will be your first line of defense against the attacker while you wait for first responders. This can mean the difference between life and death for everyone in the theater.
5. Maintain Crowd Sizes
Keep your crowd sizes manageable for better crowd control during an emergency. During weekends, movie premieres, summer blockbuster seasons and holidays, hire additional security guards in anticipation of inevitably larger crowds.
For The Movie Goers:
1. Be Vigilant
Keep this tip in mind, especially when you're in a public place. Always keep your wits about you and try to stay aware of the people around you and what they are doing. If you see any suspicious activity, don't hesitate to report it to the management or security guards in the theater. The point is to see a threat before it has the opportunity to surprise you.
2. Brace Yourself for Emergencies
It's always a good idea to have a plan in case of emergencies, especially if you are in the company of children. Knowing what to do in case chaos breaks out will keep you focused and alert as opposed to confused and panicked during the ordeal. You don't have to go to great lengths to prepare yourself. Simply pay attention to where exits, emergency exits, fire alarms, and emergency medical supplies are when you are in a public establishment like the movie theater.
3. Keep Your Cell Phone Handy
Don't call or text during a movie, but keep your phone in handy. Instead of turning it off, you can always put it on silent to be able to access it quickly if need be during an emergency. Have emergency numbers programmed in your phone for easy dialing or voice command. Keep in mind that during an emergency, your priority should be to keep yourself out of danger first and foremost. Before you use your mobile device to contact 911 or your emergency contacts, make sure you're concealed in a safe place.
4. Try Not to Go Alone
It’s true when they say – there is safety in numbers. An extra set of eyes and ears are always better than going it alone. Going to the movies alone makes you look more vulnerable to a potential attacker. Go with a group of friends if you can and devise a way to check on each other and stay vigilant in the theater.
5. Park Your Car In A Well Lit Area
Many acts of violence occur while victims are walking to or from their car. Keep it a point to park in well lit parking spots, or try to park in the movie theater garage where they most likely have an onsite security guard service on patrol. Don't be a victim of crime by ignoring the smart decisions you can easily make such as parking in a lit area.
Defending Yourself in A Worst Case Scenario
In the event of an attack, the best way to be safe is to stay away as far as you can and hide from the attacker. But if all else fails and you find yourself in a position where your life is in immediate danger and there is nowhere to hide, fight back. If you have to fight, strike at vulnerable areas such as their eyes or groin -- somewhere that hurts enough to buy you time to hide or escape. Anything within your reach can be a powerful weapon with enough force. If the attacker is subdued or stunned, use the opportunity to escape as far as you can from the reach of the attacker.
Violence happens all round us all the time. While there is no precise way to tell when and where an attacker will strike, little things like the tips listed here can help prevent violence from occurring in the movie theater and keep everyone safer. Being alert, prepared, and calm can equate to survival during outbreaks of violence in public places such as the movie theater. Whether you are a movie theater operator or an avid movie goer, you can breathe a little easier knowing there are security measures in place and that everyone can do a little something to keep each other safe. Image Credit: fourfive