Are you ready for the unexpected? Now is the time to prepare!
A volunteer cuts their finger while preparing refreshments. A member of the vestry begins choking during a meeting. A possible gas leak causes a building evacuation. We all know unexpected things happen.
By virtue of being unexpected it may be months – or even years – between incidents but we need to be ready when they happen. As we move into the fall and start to have more activities going on in our parishes every week it is an excellent time to take a few minutes and review your safety preparations.
Probably the most basic questions are these:
- Do people know where the congregation’s first aid kits are?
- Are they easily accessible?
- Is there one in each church vehicle? In the kitchen, the nursery, the office?
Take a moment to actually open the kits – when was the last time you did that? Has the kit been replenished recently? Are there adequate supplies of things such as bandages in multiple sizes? Has the antibiotic cream expired?
If you’re unsure of what all to keep in the kit, the American Red Cross has compiled a list of recommendations here: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit/anatomy.
Next, are emergency numbers clearly posted in the First Aid kits and near phones?
Do you have an AED on site? If so, who is trained in its use? What about CPR and First Aid? Consider holding a CPR or First Aid training class within the congregation – many chapters of the Red Cross and local health departments can assist in organizing these sessions.
What if you had to evacuate your facility? Do you have a predetermined safe meeting location for your congregation? Do all your members know where it is? When I was working at another facility, a safety officer recommended we get to know our local neighbors and have an informal agreement in case any one of us needed a safe, indoor evacuation point. By the way, have you ever had a fire/evacuation drill at the church?
The Red Cross has prepared a number of checklists (in several languages) for various types of disasters, from Hurricanes to Earthquakes, if your parish is in an area prone to these events: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster-safety-library. The Red Cross also provides a series of apps for your mobile device that can be useful in times of emergency.
Finally, check out our own Disaster Preparedness Resources, which includes a link to Episcopal Relief and Development's Resource Library for churches.
While we don’t like to think about accidents or disasters happening in church, a little bit of preparedness can go a long way to insuring the safety of your congregation!