Emergency Preparedness - Policy, Purpose, Administration - 6.1
Policy: It is the policy of the Apostolic Faith Church to prepare for emergency situations to the best of our ability in order to protect all individuals who attend or participate in services and events at our locations.
Purpose: It is our purpose to maintain our facilities in a manner that eliminates hazards and reduces risk, and to instruct our workers regarding the best possible response in emergency situations.
Administration: The pastor and his safety appointees are responsible to oversee preparation of the church facility and training of staff and volunteers to respond to the following crisis situations (presented in alphabetical order):
- Building Evacuation
- Civil Disturbance
- Disruptive Person
- Medical Emergency
- Missing Child
- Power Outage
- Violent Intruder
Instructions for Pastor and Safety Team - 6.2
Our church buildings are facilities which are used on a continual basis by large numbers of people, so emergency situations may well occur from time to time.
Each church should have a safety team made up of individuals who will help to implement safety procedures in the local church and ensure that the facilities are maintained in a manner that reduces risks. Pastors may serve on the safety team, although that is not a requirement. If possible, the team should consist of at least three members. Pastors should consider involving the following:
- Assistant ministers, ushers, maintenance personnel, and/or security people.
- A person(s) with business skills to do copying, filing, distribution of materials, record keeping, etc.
- Individual(s) with medical or emergency response training.
If the pastor does not plan to participate as part of the team, he should appoint a team leader.
In addition, each pastor should identify able-bodied, responsible, and level-headed individuals from the congregation who would be able to take charge of an emergency situation. (These individuals may be part of the safety team or people who have medical or emergency response training, but others may qualify as well.) These people should be appointed and trained to serve as Church Emergency Responders (CERs).
Pastors should be thoroughly familiar with the contents of this Safety and Security Manual, and do their best to ensure that its guidelines are observed. They, along with the safety team members and CERs, should be thoroughly familiar with the responsibilities outlined in the portion of this document titled Emergency Procedures (they are also given in the document Procedure Guidelines for Church Emergency Responders). Pastors, ministers, safety team members, ushers, and CERs should also take the following steps:
Facility and Staff Preparedness - 6.3
Accidents can happen in God’s house just as they do in schools or other public buildings. Each of our Apostolic Faith churches has a unique set of risk factors. Facilities that have been used for a number of years may have older wiring and plumbing, stairways, and equipment which cause an ever-increasing possibility for accident and injury.
To eliminate hazards and be best prepared to deal with accidents, pastors or the local safety team should take the following steps:
- Keep a current list of phone numbers for crisis responders near entries and at other strategic locations throughout the church. The list should include the church address, and provide phone numbers for:
- 911 (police, fire, and medical assistance).
- Security and building maintenance contact person(s).
- Church emergency responders (CERs), and/or individuals in the congregation who have emergency response or medical training.
- Minister(s) to contact in event of emergency.
- Post maps of the building and emergency evacuation routes near exits throughout the building. If the church is located in an earthquake zone or an area with potential for extreme weather conditions, maps should be marked with “safe zones” where congregation members will go in case of such an event.
- Mark all exits clearly, and keep them free of obstructions so they can be utilized easily in event of an emergency.
- Keep a document identifying the location of all key shut-offs (gas main, electricity, and water) in the pastor’s office and/or other easily accessible locations.
- Schedule an annual walk-through inspection by the local fire department to ensure that no hazardous conditions exist on the premises.
- Facilitate regular inspections of fire alarm pull stations, fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and the fire suppression (sprinkler) system.
- Have the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems inspected regularly to eliminate potentially hazardous conditions.
- Ensure that all repair and maintenance tasks are performed in a timely manner.
The best safety preparation revolves around safety awareness. The more people who become aware and involved in safety measures in the local church, the more effective that church’s safety program will be.
Establishing a safety team and appointing and training CERs are important first steps in preparing the local staff and volunteers for responding effectively to emergency situations. In addition, pastors or their safety team should:
- Ensure that all new workers are provided with Procedure Guidelines for the areas in which they will serve, and are adequately trained in the church’s emergency procedures.
- Arrange for the presentation or distribution of any safety training materials provided by the Portland headquarters.
- Schedule a CER to be available during each worship service or church activity, if possible.
- Encourage staff and volunteers to become certified in CPR and basic first aid practices.
- Ensure that ministers, safety team members, CERs, and other key personnel know how to disseminate emergency information, and to announce and implement a building evacuation.
- Define a method for monitoring conditions after an earthquake, power outage, or extreme weather event, and for checking on congregation members.
- If the local church is in a hazardous weather zone, inform the congregation regarding verbiage used by the National Weather Service in identifying storm conditions, and the steps to take in event of a warning.
- Instruct the congregation in evacuation procedures, and/or hold periodic evacuation drills.
- Maintain buildings and equipment in a manner that promotes physical safety. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Keep outdoor walkways in good repair and free of uneven surfaces.
- Ensure that interior flooring, steps, carpet, and handrails are kept in good condition.
- Provide adequate lighting in parking areas, entries, halls, stairways, and storage areas.
- Mark construction or repair work sites with boundary markers, cones, and signs to alert people of potential hazards.
- Store cleaning chemicals and flammable materials in a locked area.
- Designate an area where first aid and medical supplies, wheelchair, and other emergency response equipment is readily available.
- Maintain fully stocked first aid kits at key locations throughout the building.
- Retain in the church office all records related to building safety inspections, discrepancies, and work orders for corrective action.
Building Evacuation Preparedness
- Maintain a list of self-identified disabled persons who require assistance during an emergency evacuation. Designate assistants for wheelchair users to help them during an emergency.
- Know the earthquake hazards in your area. Earthquake hazard maps can be found at: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/states
- Mark emergency exit maps with the safest areas in the church (away from windows, brick walls, etc.)
- Position tall furniture away from exits. Do not use tall furniture as room dividers.
- Strap or bolt all bookcases, cabinets, and files over forty-two inches tall to the walls.
- Check the stability of hanging objects such as ceiling fans and light fixtures. Secure all mirrors, pictures, and decorative wall hangings properly.
- Retain all records and documents related to earthquake drills, trainings, and inspections in the church office.
- Maintain fire alarm pull stations, smoke alarms, and a fire suppression (sprinkler) system, and inspect them annually to make sure they are in working order.
- Retain all records and documents related to fire safety inspections and corrective actions in the church record-keeping system.
- Provide fire extinguishers at well-marked and accessible locations throughout the building.
- Keep corridors, aisles, and exits free of obstructions.
- Limit the use of extension cords and multiple outlets.
- Do not use mechanical rooms or utility rooms for storage.
- Post signs near elevators indicating that elevators are not to be used in the event of a fire.
If the local church is in a hurricane or tornado zone, the following steps should be taken:
- Mark church maps with hurricane-safe shelter areas. Typically, these areas would be the basement, small interior rooms, closets, or hallways on the lowest level away from windows.
- Equip hurricane/tornado shelter areas with emergency supplies such as a battery-powered radio, blankets, bottled water, flashlights, and batteries.
- Have basic supplies, such as cleaning buckets, shovels, and bleach on hand for initial cleanup.
- Maintain contact information for church members who need to be checked on after a storm, and designate specific workers to make those checks.
- Make sure flood insurance is adequate if the building is near a river or stream.
- Retain all records and documents related to hurricane/tornado drills, trainings, and inspections related to preparedness in the church records.
- If a hurricane is announced in the area, and time permits, secure external and internal doors, close windows, and secure outdoor items or bring them indoors.
Medical Emergency Preparedness
- Designate an area where first aid and medical supplies, wheelchair, and other emergency response equipment are kept readily available.
- Maintain fully stocked first aid kits at key locations throughout the building.
- Establish a recovery area equipped with a place to lie down, first aid supplies, blankets, and pillows.
Power Outage Preparedness
- Identify vital power-dependent functions, operations, and equipment.
- If feasible, have a back-up generator which provides emergency power for all exit lighting, fire and intrusion alarm systems, the audio system, and freeze protection for the building’s heating system.
- Label all breakers and shut-offs.
- Keep a current list of contact information for utility/power providers.
- Keep offsite duplicates of critical computer data.
Violent Intruder Preparedness
- If possible, have a public address system in place which allows for a building emergency to be broadcast throughout the whole facility.
- Prepare ways to secure or isolate different areas of the building to prevent movement of intruders.
- After services begin, lock “low use” doors to prevent intruders from entering the building.
- Know who has keys to the church building.