When an emergency happens at your church do your staff, members, and visitors know what to do? As church leaders, we all play a pivotal role in helping to prepare our communities to respond in an emergency. To help you plan and protect your ministry, we discuss key elements to consider when creating an emergency preparedness plan.
Access Current Plans
Your church leadership team should set a time to develop or review its plans for various emergencies. Setting this meeting can help you identify strengths and weaknesses within your emergency preparedness plans and procedures. The planning team should examine realistic hazards based on your local context and resources available. Consulting local emergency response officials like firefighters, EMTs, and law enforcement can improve the effectiveness of your plan. Also, emergency response officials may have critical insight into the church's response in an emergency case. This information can help them respond to an emergency at your facility.
Prepare or Adjust Your Response
It’s now time to develop or amend emergency response plans for your ministry. Based on the assessment of your ministry context, potential emergencies, and recommendations from emergency response personnel, develop both external and internal threat plans:
Exterior threat (e.g., Severe weather, violent threat outside of facility)
Identify safe interior spaces that help limit exposure to an external threat. Keep in mind the space needed to provide adequate shelter for the potential number of building occupants. Include plans for guiding building occupants to identified safe areas and clear communication procedures for your emergency response team when dealing with an external threat.
Interior threat (e.g., fire, bomb threat, internal security threat)
Based on the schematics of your facility, develop clear escapes routes and gathering areas for all interior rooms. A separate set of communication procedures may be needed for an internal threat to help ensure your emergency response team functions effectively.
In all situations take special care to consider the needs of our vulnerable communities. UMIP will partner with Strategos this month to provide a free Active Shooter webinar. Register today(linked text) for this valuable information.
After you have completed your emergency response plans, communicate them to your team. Conducting walkthroughs and practicing scenarios with your team can improve its response time and allow you to identify additional weaknesses in your plan. Relocate any items that obstruct an evacuation route or a marked path to an internal safe room. Conduct these drills when new members are added to your team as well as quarterly based on seasonal threats.
Create and Publish Lists
Gather the contact information for your external emergency response personnel and internal response personnel. This list should be made available to all event leaders or vendors that use your ministry’s facilities. Also, this list should be promptly updated when information changes.
These are external emergency contacts that should be on your list:
Gas and Electric Company
Church Insurance Agent (Policy #)
Make sure your ministry has adequate and appropriate supplies for an emergency. Develop an inventory checklist of the items that may be needed for emergency response. Schedule and document regular inventory checks and ensure all response kits and supplies are in their proper locations. We’ve compiled a list of a few essential emergency response supplies:
Portable mobile device charger
Portable, battery-powered radio or television
Visit your local hardware or retail store to review their emergency response kits. Many disaster response experts suggest purchasing an NOAA Weather Radio that includes a tone alert to notify you of severe weather.
You can improve the capabilities of your ministry to help protect its members and guests when tragedy strikes. Our partners at Suracy Faith can help protect your ministry through property and casualty insurance. Contact us today and request a free insurance quote for your ministry!