As a pastor, you may be well skilled in guiding your congregation through a Bible study or evangelistic series. But it’s important to also be prepared to guide your church in the event of an emergency. If you’ve never conducted a safety drill with your church, you might be unsure of where to start. Here are five essential items you’ll need to conduct a successful fire drill.
1. Working Fire Detectors—in every room, on every floor!
A working fire detector should be used to signal the start of your fire drill. This allows church members and leaders alike to get accustomed to how a real fire-related evacuation will feel and sound. At the designated time of your fire drill, have an assigned deacon set off the detector manually with the “test” button found on most detectors. Then follow your fire drill plan as usual.
2. Posted Evacuation Routes
Have evacuation routes posted in various locations of your facility, to make sure they are visible to all inside. These will serve as a guide for any visitors to your church on the day of your fire drill or in the event of a real fire-related evacuation. Create a map of your church and highlight at least two ways out of each room. Then post these maps at the entrance or near the door to each room and have several available in the main sanctuary.
3. Unobstructed, Well-Lit EXIT Signs
Even with clearly marked evacuation routes, some members might still have trouble exiting the building. That’s why every door leading outside should have a well-lit and unobstructed EXIT sign. During a real fire-related evacuation, these EXIT signs can shine through the smoke and help members get out alive. Prior to your fire drill, take a walk through your church and make sure there is nothing blocking your evacuation routes and no items blocking your EXIT signs or doors.
4. Predetermined Gathering Locations
While it is important for everyone to exit the building safely and quickly, it is also important for them to know where to meet and to stay there until the all clear signal has been given. During a real emergency, parents who are anxiously looking for their children may put themselves in danger by re-entering an unsafe building. Bring yourself to safety first by following the escape plan. Once the crisis is over, families can be safely reunited outside the building at predetermined gathering locations.
5. Assist the Elderly, Disabled, Children, and Visitor
Consider the certain groups as you plan and practice your fire drill. Designate church deacons or deaconesses to assist the elderly and those who limited mobility. Remember to avoid using elevators during a drill or actual emergency. Young children may also need additional supervision during the drill. And, don’t forget the visitor who is unfamiliar with your emergency plan and church exits. Paying special attention to these groups during the drill will ensure everyone will get out safely.
The key to any successful safety drill is to plan it, practice it, and evaluate it. With these five essential safety items, you will be well on your way to helping your church conduct a successful fire drill.
Join Adventist Risk Management, Inc. and churches around the North American Division on March 25, 2017 for Safety Sabbath. Safety Sabbath is one day set aside by the North American Division for all churches to protect their congregation by holding a safety drill on the fourth Sabbath in March.
Mark your calendars now and get your church ready with a fire drill. For more information and a complete guide to conducting your fire drill, visit SafetySabbath.com.
Elizabeth Camps is a writer and public relations specialist for Adventist Risk Management, Inc.