By participating in Safety Sabbath we will have safer church environments, emergency plans in place, crisis response teams put together, and a continued pursuit of safety by the end of March.
One of the most important reasons for participating in Safety Sabbath rests in the future of the smallest risk managers: our kids.
Preparing the Little OnesWhen the emergency alarm goes off, and your Sabbath school classroom full of toddlers begins to panic and cry, what do you do? An important part of your practice drill should include what to say to the children and youth of your local church to ensure that they know what to do during an emergency.
Before the Drill
Prepare kids for what they can expect during the drill. What kinds of sounds will they hear? What will the people around them be doing? What should they do? Do they know who they should follow to safety?
Consider performing a test of how the alarm will sound. A practice run allows children to familiarize themselves with the alarm and know what to do the next time they hear it. You can prepare them for the commotion of church members making their way towards the exits. Lead the children step-by-step on what they should do when they hear that alarm. Take a few minutes to show them the location of the nearest exits.
Display photos of what local emergency services personnel look like in their uniforms. Reassure the children not to panic if they are separated from the group. Teach them that they should look for emergency personnel. Inform the children that the emergency personnel are there to help with evacuations, searches, and drills.
Appoint two or three children in each classroom to be the designated “line leaders” When it’s time to evacuate, line leaders will help encourage the rest of the children to follow their example. They should understand that their role is to line up, remain calm and quiet, and wait for further instruction after the evacuation.
Make sure your appointed line leaders get to know the Crisis Response Team. They can become familiar with the idea of being part of the team when they are older. When young children are taught and encouraged to participate in safety drills, it assures the continuity and continued growth of the church’s Crisis Response Team.
We will have safer church environments, emergency plans in place, crisis response teams put together and a continued pursuit of safety.During the Drill
Demonstrate what each child should do when they hear the alarm, or when an adult notifies them that an emergency situation is taking place. Do they need to evacuate or shelter in place? Should they calmly file out of the room or find a secure location for protection? Let the children practice a few times so they are comfortable doing this. Introduce them to the Crisis Response Team so that they know who to talk to when an emergency is occurring.
Discuss what each line leader should do when they hear the alarm. Encourage the rest of the class to follow the line leader. Tell them they don’t have to worry if they forget what to do. They just need to follow the line leader. If a line leader is not comfortable leading the class, let him or her know that they can always follow the teacher’s example, as well.
Create a signal for the children that will help them understand that the emergency is over. The signal helps avoid children returning into a burning building, coming out from under their sturdy hiding spot too early, or putting themselves in harm’s way.
After the Drill
Congratulate the children on what they did right. Did they wait quietly until the all-clear signal was given? Did they know what to do when the corresponding alarm sounded? This encourages children to take the drill seriously. Line leaders should also be congratulated for their efforts in the success of your chosen drill.
Then, review an incident that did not go as planned. Ask what should have happened instead. Work together to find a way to remember each step the children should follow in the event of an emergency. Then, walk through the steps again.
Ensuring the Future ChurchAs you prepare for Safety Sabbath 2016 consider including at least one youth member in each area of your crisis response team. As your team works together to assign tasks, be sure to include the young adult and teen church members in these assignments. Help your Crisis Response Team continue to grow together. If a team member steps down, you will have someone who is already trained to take his or her place.
For more information on creating your church’s Crisis Response Team and on how to get the kids involved, visit SafetySabbath.com.