Create an Emergency Response Plan for Your Church
Disaster planning experts recommend that businesses, churches, and schools have an emergency response plan and conduct drills regularly to make sure people know how the plan works.
As a church leader, you’re responsible for nurturing people’s spiritual lives. In an emergency, you may be responsible for protecting their physical lives.
Developing a Plan
Create a team to help you plan for various emergency situations. If possible, appoint a different person to each area of responsibility:
- First aid
- Emergency supplies.
Have your planning team examine realistic hazards and the resources available to your ministry. Consider whether your church is in any of these locations:
- Flood plain
- Earthquake zone
- Tornado-prone area
- Near an area where hazardous chemicals are produced, stored, or transported
Prioritize. Analyze each potential emergency to determine the probability of such an event happening and its impact on people, property, and the ministry.
Collaborate. Consult experts, such as fire or emergency management personnel about any special concerns you should include in the plan.
Inventory. Identify equipment available for fire protection, communications, first aid, and emergency power.
Prepare Your Response
Prepare a response according to the nature of the emergency.
Exterior threat (e.g., tornado):
- Identify a safe place to gather. If there's no basement, choose an interior hallway on the lowest level, away from windows and doors.
- Avoid structures with high or free-span roofs, such as sanctuaries or gymnasiums.
Interior threat (e.g., fire or bomb threat):
- Design an escape route. Map out the locations of doors, windows, and stairways.
- Designate gathering areas - at least 150 feet away from the building - where people will meet after evacuating.
- Assign employees and volunteers to lead evacuations from different areas of the building.
- Use a buddy system for people with disabilities.
- Post evacuation routes and procedures in highly visible areas throughout the building.
- Conduct periodic evacuation drills familiarize staff and volunteers with your facility's layout.
- Compare notes afterward to identify and address problems.
- Relocate items obstructing evacuation routes, or redesign congested areas.
- Train employees on a regular basis.
Create a list (wallet size if possible) and assign someone to keep information up-to-date. Include:
- Names of people who would respond to an emergency
- Their responsibilities
- Their 24-hour phone numbers
Give each employee a list of important phone numbers:
- Police and fire departments
- Ambulance service and hospitals
- Your church's insurance agent and policy number
- Telephone, gas, and electric companies
- Building management and security
- Local Small Business Administration office
- Federal Emergency Management Agency office
- Newspaper, radio, and television stations.
Assemble a first-aid kit and tools that might be needed in an emergency. Include these and other items:
- Portable, battery-powered radio or television
- Extra batteries
- Camera and film
- Waterproof matches
- Duct tape and scissors
- Plastic sheeting
- Paper towels
- Shut-off wrench
You can assemble a kit for less than $100. Many disaster planners also recommend that you purchase a NOAA Weather Radio with a tone alert feature to notify you of severe weather.