Ensuring Safety Of Your Congregation All Year Round
January 16, 2019
Ensuring the safety of your congregation all year round
As the year progresses, the needs and how you care for your church and congregation will also change. Whilst this up keeping and risk-management can seem like an everlasting task, we want to assure you that it is manageable throughout all the seasons of the year.
Warmer weather means an increase in amount of crime— a church’s roof is at particular threat from thieves. Luckily, there are some practical steps that you can take to potentially deter any criminal activity and keep your church safe.
- Join the neighbourhood watch; engaging with the community is a great way to encourage more people to walk by their local church. More eyes and frequent visitors are a good deterrent for criminal activity.
- Identity Marking; this is an easy-to-install method which makes the crime less attractive; it works by marking items in a particular way so that, should they be stolen and recovered, they can be traced back to the original owner. A widely-marketed and well reputed specialist for Identity Marking is Smart water Technology Limited.
- Planning events; Spring can be a busy period for Church events, especially as Easter approaches. Make sure that you have appropriate health and safety procedures in place and any potential risks and necessary precautions are accounted for—always keep your volunteers/employees well informed of these safety measures. If in doubt, we strongly recommend that you contact your insurer or ourselves for further advice, and to ensure that you have the appropriate cover.
Whilst Summer is a great time for attracting families and the younger generation to your church, it can also be a quieter time with fewer events.
- Keeping your church active; following on from Spring, we recommend that you keep your church open, to continue deterring potential criminals. A church with more possible witnesses immediately makes committing a crime less attractive. Of course, as night-time comes around locking your church securely is a must.
- Keys and valuables; Keep the keys in a secure place away from the church. If more than one individual has access to keys, have a list of all the key-holders and keep this list safe, too.
The same applies for valuables. If expensive or valued items must stay on site, then it is a good idea to lock them in a safe. If this is not possible then in a secure, locked room (ideally with no or stained windows, so that criminals cannot see the valuables).
It is at this time of the year when nights start to turn darker. It is always a good idea to take this into consideration when reviewing your safety risk-assessment; are there any volunteers/employees who will be working on their own in the evening? Are they aware of the safety measures in place to help them, should they need it? If you are ever in doubt, contact either your insurer or us—we would be happy to provide you with further guidance and advice.
The church building itself and the surrounding grounds must also be ready for the changing weather:
- Guttering and plumbing; now is a good time to check pipes. Are they well insulated, or are there any cracks/leaks? It is often cheaper to fix them now before the Winter sets in. Ensure that your gutters and drains work well and clear them of leaves often; this could stop water build up, potential leaks and flooding.
- Pathways; sweeping away fallen leaves from pathways is important, as wet leaves are a slip hazard when wet.
- Remove loose structures; If the church building or grounds have any trees, now is a good time to check their stability. Are there any loose or dead branches? Stronger winds means that these may become loose and cause property damage.
- Have adequate heating; hiring a professional individual or service check over your boiler and heater before the cold weather worsens could make all the difference in keeping your church safe and visitors warm. Alternative heating should be available should a failure occur in the central heating. Whilst both open flame sources and electrical heating are a fire hazard, electrical heating with a thermostatic turn-off is often safer so long as it is not left unoccupied and any loose papers, clothing, etc is kept well away from it.
- Risk assessment; Colder weather and heat sources for warmth means that now is a good time to review the fire risk-assessment. Removing or reducing the risk of flammable substances and implementing fire precautions are a must. It’s also important to ensure that fire-exit/escape routes are clearly marked, and that fire-fighting equipment is easily accessible. Often, insurers will have requirements with regards to fire safety, including equipment necessary; contact them or ourselves for further guidance.
We are aware that Winter is a particularly busy time for churches. Many events take place during this time of year, including Nativity, carol-singing and Christmas—it is always a good idea to review your insurance and ensure you are adequately protected before going forward with any of these events.