Holiday festivities draw many people together! Friends, family, church members, and visitors gather on these occasions for worship, celebration, and other festivities organized by local churches.
The holidays bring an influx of people to your facilities. As you make preparations for any holiday services, schedule an appointment with the church safety officer and his/her team. Review safety procedures and ensure that all the activities are kept safe. A successful event is when everyone returns home safely. Consider the following factors.
ELECTRICAL SAFETYDuring the holidays, it is customary to use decorative Christmas lights in a continuous string. They are used to decorate Christmas tree(s), walls, ceilings, roofs, etc. First, use only UL listed lights. Replace missing bulbs. Don’t run cords through windows or doorways. Keep any electric cables located under live trees away from the water reservoir. Keep all electrical wiring out of traffic areas. Don’t run wires under rugs, carpet, or anywhere they can be pinched. Additionally, ensure that cords are placed out of reach of small children.
Use junction boxes with adequate power outlets to supply special lighting. Overloaded circuits can cause overheating and spark an electrical fire. At the end of each day’s event, these lights are to be disconnected from their power source and checked for safe operation.
EGRESS and EXITSAs you plan your special event, observe the required county and city fire codes and restrictions and the maximum number of people allowed in the building at one time. Special church events with large crowds are often accommodated with additional seating inside the sanctuary and provided overflow areas in other rooms of the building. Chairs and individuals should never block exits or walkways. Make sure that your additional seating does not place event attendance over the maximum number of people allowed in the room at one time.
Any on-duty deacons or deaconesses should ensure that all exit signs are clearly marked and lit. All aisles should be clear for an emergency evacuation. Emergency lights are to be checked regularly, and should always be in good working condition.
Deacons should be trained in advance for emergencies and assigned for evacuation of the elderly and handicapped. Depending on the program planned for the day, it may be necessary to have additional deacons on duty.
PARKINGHeavy traffic and additional vehicles are expected during the holidays or for any significant event at your facility. Plan ahead to have sufficient numbers of deacons to assist in directing traffic in the parking lot and overflow lots. Before the event, determine if the parking lot will accommodate the increased number of cars. Make arrangements for additional parking areas and include this information in all event communications. During opening and closing hours of the activities, personnel should guide the children and elderly to and from the building safely through the parking lot.
Are the parking lots and outdoor walkways well lit? Directions of travel and egress should be clearly displayed and monitored. Drivers should reduce speeds in inclement weather. Wet weather provides a higher chance of skidding. Winter weather requires making arrangements for snow removal. Assign volunteers to assist people to and from the parking lot in case of inclement weather.
MEDICAL PRECAUTIONSIt is wise to have medical personnel at your church available in case of an emergency. A church member who is a nurse, doctor, or a trained first aid volunteer are options to consider. All local church leaders should have information for each event about the on-duty medical personnel . To avoid confusion during a crisis, the event team should also review all emergency medical procedures.
To learn more about how you can keep your church safe, especially in the event of any emergency, register for Safety Sabbath 2017.