Updated: Jul 20
Advent is almost here. Make sure those Christmas services aren’t interrupted by Mother Nature by weatherizing your church today.
Corrosion, pressure, and faulty parts are frequent culprits in fires and explosions during the winter months. Schedule a certified inspection and enter the winter season with confidence in your HVAC system. Talk with your inspector about potential areas of concern and developing a maintenance schedule for your system.
Keep your boiler room clear and clean. The boiler room should not be used for any type of storage, especially not for flammable goods. This includes boxes, cleaning supplies, or seasonal ornaments, and decorations.
Space heaters are often used as a secondary source of heat for small areas like offices or smaller meeting rooms. While not dangerous in nature there are potentially hazardous situations that you can avoid.
Older models may lack some of the newer functions like auto shut off or a grille to protect the heating elements. These factors create a higher risk for fires and other types of damage. Upgrading these units or repairing malfunctioning or faulty parts will help resolve these potential issues.
Make sure all space heaters are plugged into a wall socket. These appliances should never be plugged into extension cords or surge protectors. Space heaters require high voltage to operate effectively and this high voltage could cause an extension cord or surge protector to overheat or spark a fire. While space heaters can be used to keep smaller rooms at comfortable temperatures, care must be taken to avoid potential dangers.
Exposed pipes are more susceptible to freezing and bursting in the winter months. Insulating exposed pipes and maintaining appropriate temperatures within the building will help to prevent freezing inside your pipes. Also, for extended dormant times, leaving faucets on a slow drip will keep water flowing and not freezing through your pipes.
In the event of a burst pipe, shut off water to the entire building and call a certified plumber and water removal agency to repair or replace the pipe and deal with any water damage.
Snow and Ice Removal
Assemble a winter weather team to care for your property when snow or ice arrive. The responsibilities should include things like salting or clearing sidewalks, drying interior floors, and prepping parking lots and walkways for adverse weather. As your team works, monitor their health and provide “warm-up” breaks; this will help you ensure your volunteers aren’t overworking themselves in the cold.
Establish a good working relationship and understanding with a snowplow contractor to have snow plowed or removed prior to church events. Many contractors do not clear sidewalks and steps, but your winter weather team can cover these areas. Identify where snow and ice could accumulate and possibly refreeze. Give attention to areas that receive minimal sun, such as gutters and drainpipes, sidewalk corners, and doorways.
Your church should develop and publicize your weather-related closure policy for the church. This policy should include the process for making the decision to close the church and assigning the responsibility of communicating the closure to your community.
As you go through your weather-related closure policy, consider your membership and their situations. The age, mobility, and distance from your membership and community will help in the decision-making process. Establish multiple channels to communicate closures and inform your community as soon as possible..
By taking a proactive approach to winterizing your church, you will be able to enjoy those magical winter moments while knowing God’s house is resting peacefully as well.
This content has been prepared by United Methodist Insurance Company (UMI) for informational purposes only. No article or document may accurately contemplate all possible scenarios or church resources. As such, this information is meant to foster discussion by the individual church and its members to develop a plan tailored to its own circumstances. UMI is providing this information with no warranties or guarantees of any kind and it should not be viewed as legal, financial, or other professional advice. All liability is expressly disclaimed. Any claim examples described herein are general in nature, may or may not be based on actual claims, and are for informational purposes only. Any coverage available for a claim is determined from the facts and circumstances of the claim as well as the terms and conditions of any applicable policy, including any exclusions or deductibles. In the event of a conflict with the content herein, the terms and conditions of any issued policy will control. Individual coverage may vary and may not be available in all states.
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