Imagine you’re at work and you hear someone yell, “Put the money in the bag!” Confused, you look up and see someone in front of you pointing a gun in your face.

What do you do? How do you react? Do you scream? Maybe you try and defend yourself by grabbing the gun.

The truth is, most of us don’t know how we would react because we haven’t been in that type of situation before. This post highlights a few helpful safety tips to remember if you ever find yourself in the middle of an armed robbery at your business.

1. Expect to Be Afraid, But Stay Calm

Nobody really knows what to expect during a robbery, but chances are you will be scared. Anticipating this sense of fear can help you remain calm.

Do what you’re told, and avoid confrontation. It’s often best to give into the robber’s demands. Let him or her take the money or asset, as this reduces the risk of injury and the duration of the robbery. Don’t agitate the robber and escalate the situation by acting frantic. Here are a few ways you can calm yourself down:

  • Repeat positive phrases like “I’m okay” in your head.
  • Visualize a safe and relaxing scene in your mind.
  • Don’t forget to breathe.

2. Stay Hidden

Maybe you’re in the back kitchen or merchandise room. Calmly try to stay out of sight and not make any noise. You don’t want to startle the robber and make the situation worse. Stay put, and, if possible, discreetly call for help.

3. Call the Police Immediately

If your business has an alarm or emergency panic button, make sure employees know how to use them. Triggering either will alert the monitoring center tied to the security system that will then will dispatch authorities.

If those aren’t options, it’s critical you call 911 as soon as it’s safe. Once you tell the operator what happened, authorities will be dispatched to your business.

Also, stay calm, and be prepared to answer all of the operator’s questions. Some questions they will ask you:

  • What is your name?
  • What is your address?
  • What is the name of your business?
  • What happened?
  • Do you or anybody there need medical assistance?

Being able to answer these questions correctly will help the police get to you sooner and come prepared with everything they need to handle the situation.

4. Don’t Leave Right Away

Robberies can be very traumatic. After it’s over, you may want to get out of there as fast as you can—don’t. Stick around, and wait for the police to come. You can provide details and clues to help the authorities catch the perpetrator.

The police may want to get your phone number and other information in case they have more questions later during the investigation. Companies should have a set protocol to follow if there is a robbery that includes:

  • Check to see if anyone needs medical attention. If somebody needs help, contact paramedics and the victim’s family members.
  • Support the police in their investigation efforts.
  • Contact the business owner and key employees to inform them about the robbery.
  • Notify customers your business is temporarily closed.

5. Allow Yourself Time to Recover

As we mentioned earlier, robberies can be very traumatic for everyone involved. Nobody wants to be threatened, and it may take some time for you to fully recover.

Don’t rush yourself.

Talk to friends, family, co-workers and the company owner. Traumatic experiences like this can cause stress and anxiety, and some victims may experience flashbacks. Reach out to victim support groups for education, advocacy and awareness resources.

6. Be Proactive in Prevention

Nobody wants to experience a robbery, but they happen. In 2016, there were an estimated 327,374 robberies, resulting in an estimated $390 million in losses. Take proper security precautions to ensure you, your employees/coworkers and business are safe. Below are a few key security measures to prevent a robbery:

  • Place surveillance cameras in front of all entrances of your business’s building. If you own a retail business, put a camera behind the cash register to monitor all interactions between customers and employees.
  • Install a proper alarm system that not only alerts you of suspicious activity, but also an alarm monitoring center and the authorities.
  • Place signs inside and outside of your business to let people know you have a security system in place. This can help deter criminals.
  • Make sure exterior areas of the building are well lit. When areas are well lit, it can be harder for robberies to go unnoticed, especially when it’s dark.
  • Never carry money alone. If you own a business where you have to deposit money in the bank at the end of the night, have someone accompany you. This makes a robbery harder and gives your partner time to alert the authorities if an incident takes place.

Nobody can predict when a robbery will happen, but they can prepare for prevention.