How to Barricade a Door

A barricade is a temporary wall or fence. It can be made of whatever objects you have on hand and it is usually used to block off an area that needs protection from unwanted visitors (such as intruders) until the danger has passed.

Your first priority in an active shooter scenario is to flee.

If you are unable to do so, the next best alternative is to conceal, preferably in a room with a locking door. Attackers are seeking for easy targets, therefore they’ll typically walk right past a closed door instead of attempting to break it down.

If the door to the room you’re in isn’t locked, you’ll need to barricade it (and you should do this even if the door does lock, simply to create extra protection). When barricading oneself in a room, you want to construct “layers of protection,” so that if an assailant gets past one barrier, he’ll be confronted with another.

Simple situational awareness and reconnaissance are the initial steps in establishing security. When you enter a room, you should be aware of the departure points and whether the door(s) open outwards or inwards, since this will influence the security measures you use.

There are many ways to jerry-rig the door closed if it opens outward (towards the shooter). You can wedge anything in the door to keep it shut if it opens inward (towards the room you’re in). In any instance, it’s a good idea to stack furniture against the entrance to offer another layer of security: the shooter, who is seeking for easy targets, may opt to walk on rather than break the barrier; even if he does, the obstruction will allow you time to launch a counterattack. If you have “ownership” of the room (for example, if it’s your classroom), try placing the furniture near the entrance on a regular basis so that you can swiftly place it against the door in the event of an emergency. You want to move away from the door as soon as it’s blocked, in case it’s physically breached or shot through. After you’ve secured the door, take a step back and lean against a wall.

While it’s unlikely that you’ll ever need to use these strategies, they’ve been used in real-life active shooter scenarios, with some even researching “how to lock a door” during the crisis. Rather of fumbling with your phone in a panic, review the advice above and you’ll be prepared to use them in an emergency.

Doors that open outward

1: Tie the doorknob to a nearby heavy item using a rope, power cable, or belt.

2: To keep the door shut, tape a broom handle perpendicular to the door frame and tie it to the doorknob.

3: Secure a belt around the top of the door hinge if necessary.

4: Pile heavy objects/furniture in the entryway to create impediments if the door is opened by an assailant.

Doors that open inward

1: Place a chair beneath the doorknob or a doorstop in the gap between the door and the frame.

2: Use whatever heavy items or furniture you have on hand to block the entrance.


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Ted Slampyak created the artwork.