First of all, condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the Batman cinema shooting in Aurora, Colorado. The shooting is a terrible tragedy, and I can’t even begin to imagine the terror those people had to go through. After I heard about the shooting, I thought about canceling my plans to take my son to see Batman last Saturday. But then I concluded the Aurora cinema shooting is an isolated incident and that it is still fairly safe to go the movies — especially if I follow some basis theater safety rules (see my safety tips list below).
Six Safety Tips for the Cinema
Don’t let your kids go to the restroom by themselves
When I take my kids to the movies, I never let them go to the restroom by themselves. If we get there really early, I take them to the restroom when we first get there. Then a few minutes before the movie starts, I take them to the restroom again. I also avoid buying soft drinks when I’m at the theater because I know my kids probably won’t be able to make it through the entire movie without a restroom break.
Don’t leave your kids alone
I see parents leave their kids alone many times when I’m at the theater. Personally, I don’t feel comfortable with leaving my kids by themselves at the cinema. When I need to go to the restroom or buy snacks from the concession stand, I take the kids with me. It’s not as convenient as leaving the kids in their seats, but it’s the safer way to go. Better safe than sorry, right?
Pay attention to your surroundings
My understanding of the Aurora shooting is that the shooter left through one of the exterior exit doors, propped it open, and then came back through the propped door with his guns. To be honest, before the shooting, I probably wouldn’t have noticed or cared if someone left through an exterior door before the movie started. But after the shooting, I now keep an eye on anyone that leaves before and during the movie to make sure they are not leaving through one of the exterior doors. I also make a mental note of people coming in, and where the exits/entrances are.
Ask the staff if their exterior doors are locked
Most theaters have exterior exits that are locked on the outside to prevent people from sneaking in without paying. But I don’t think this is the case for all theaters (especially older ones). If you are not sure if the exterior doors are locked, ask the staff. Better yet, call ahead to determine if that’s their policy.
Check exterior exits or ask the staff to check
If you are the first one there, then go check the exterior exits to make sure the doors are not propped open. If there are other people in the theatre, I wouldn’t recommend checking the doors yourself. Otherwise, someone might think you are up to something. Instead, I would go talk to the manager and ask him to have someone on the staff check the doors before the movie starts.
If something bad does happen, try to remain calm and think clearly. I know this is hard to do, and to be honest, I’m not sure if I wouldn’t panic too if someone started shooting. However, if someone does start shooting, lie flat on the ground under the seats instead of screaming and running for the exits. After you have calmed down a bit, try to determine if you can safely make it to an exit.
Remember, you’re at the theater to relax and have some fun. So enjoy the movie, but keep my safety tips in mind.