A Few Important Lockdown and Lockout Terms

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As school safety and lockdown security have become increasingly important topics in the last several years, many terms have become more commonplace in our vocabulary. We thought it may be a good idea to address some of these terms, as well as clear up any confusion between terms that we often hear used to discuss these topics.

This is certainly not a perfect list, and there may be terms that we define that some feel should actually be used differently. If that’s the case, please feel free to contact us and we’d be happy to discuss more with you.


Since this is in the title of the article, we figured it should go first. Many people attribute the term “lockdown” to mean that there is an active shooter, or even more specifically, a school shooter, however, this isn’t the case. Even The Merriam Webster Dictionary definition of the term “lockdown” includes a reference to schools: “An emergency measure or condition in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area or building (such as a school) during a threat of danger”.

Lockdowns can refer to many different building types, and occur for many different reasons. Sometimes those reasons are not even direct threats or dangers to the building or facility, like a bear sighting near a school may not be incredibly dangerous. Often, it’s important to lockdown a building purely for preventative reasons.

One key to understand about a lockdown is that it is often a protocol in which interior doors are locked down, and anyone in the interior rooms should be hiding, or positioned in a way so that an intruder will have a difficult time causing them harm should they get partial access to the room. In most lockdowns, the goal is to keep an intruder out of rooms once they have been recognized as having entered the building.

It is vital to remember that while there are many reasons for a lockdown, a lockdown is always a serious situation. Understanding the level of lockdown in your building should one occur, and the appropriate protocols based on that lockdown, is incredibly important.


A lockout, while sometimes used interchangeably with lockdown, has important differences. A lockout occurs when individuals outside of a building are brought inside, and all exterior doors are locked. The goal is to “lock out” a potential threat before it ever has the opportunity to reach the building.

While we often discuss modified lockdowns where the intent is to keep an outside threat out, usually these situations also involve keeping students in their classrooms. During a lockout, there is often movement within the building, and there are even scenarios where normal activities resume inside.

Secure Mode

In the LockOut System, secure mode is very similar to lockout above. Secure mode means that there has been an event nearby and everyone needs to be moved inside the building, with the building perimeter secured, and many normal activities resuming inside.

The important distinction is that The LockOut System uses secure mode specifically to avoid any confusion with a lockdown situation, as often lockout and lockdown can be easily confused as terms.

Door Barricade

A door barricade, sometimes referred to as a secondary door barricade, is a device used during a lockdown to secure a door, usually an interior door to prevent an intruder from gaining entry to the room.

While there are many different types of door barricades, there are a few principles that should be adhered to when choosing or installing them on your doors:

  • They should be strong enough to reinforce the door, even if the primary lock is broken or damaged by an intruder.
  • They should be housed close enough to the door to quickly deploy.
  • They should be easy to deploy and should be taken from housing to full deployment in less than five seconds.
  • They should be simple enough to be deployed by anyone, even a child.
  • They should meet all fire code requirements, including egress.
Alert System

Alert System is a reasonably broad term that includes any notifications, alerts, or communication that helps direct those within a building during a lockdown situation. In the case of The LockOut System, the alert system includes a mobile application that can communicate to students, teachers, and administrators, as well as The LockOut SmartLights, which give visual alerts of both the level of a lockdown, and if the lockdown has been lifted to an all-clear.

On top of visual and communication alerts, some lockdown systems, including The LockOut System, provide auditory alerts that indicate when a lockdown is occurring, as well as if the lockdown has been lifted and an all-clear has been given.

There are several different types of alert systems. While these systems have different ways of communicating alerts, the main goal of every system is to communicate that a lockdown has occurred, and to assist in directing those within the building to safety.

Run, Hide, Fight

Many facilities operate under the “run, hide, fight” policy, which dictates that, during a lockdown situation, people within the building should first look to run, either out of the building if they are near an exit or to a room that can be locked down.

The second step in “run, hide, fight” states that once a person has either run a safe distance from the building or locked themselves down within a room using their door barricade, they should hide in a safe location until first-responders arrive.

The last step in the process, fight, states that, as an absolute last resort, a person should fight to protect themselves should an intruder confront them. Again, this is as an absolute resort, and should never be the first option, especially if the intruder that has triggered a lockdown has a weapon.

Any Questions?

If you have any questions about lockdown and lockout terminology, or would like to discuss any terms that may not be on this list, please contact us.

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