Plan, Know, Practice


Did your church participate in the 2019 division-wide Safety Sabbath? Many churches joined in the safety event by conducting an emergency drill in March. This is an annual opportunity to talk with church members about being prepared for emergencies and help them know what to do if an emergency occurs during a church service or event. But emergency planning doesn’t have to stop with Safety Sabbath. Continue to create safety awareness by conducting an emergency drill in your church more than just once a year.

Planning Your Drill

When planning for subsequent drills, it is vital to consider the evaluation and results of previous training. What kind of drill did your church conduct? Do you plan to have the same exercise or a different one? How can you improve your response time? These questions will help you as you begin to make plans for your next test run.

Meet with your safety committee team and analyze your drill evaluation and results. If your drill involved evacuating, consider shortening the evacuation time. Look at the feedback and the questions that came up during and after the exercise. Deliberate with your team on how to address these questions to ensure a smoother evacuation process for church members. This may include having more clearly marked exit signs, clearing escape routes of any obstacles, and making sure leaders are easy to identify.

Knowing the Drill

As with any drill, it’s important to review the steps church members should take when the emergency drill begins. First, analyze the drill process with your safety committee to ensure all are clear on what to do and where to go. Then take time to review the drill with church members and allow time for questions. Church members should be clear on what to do, who to talk to if they have questions, and which leaders to reach out to should they need assistance during the simulation.

Finally, Practice the Drill

When the plan has been created, and the steps have been reviewed, it is finally time to practice the drill. Whether it is a fire drill or an active shooter simulation, always clearly announce to church members when the exercise has begun. Remind them that this is a practice on what to do if a real emergency occurs. If your drill involves an alarm, inform church members that they should follow the reviewed steps once they hear the alarm.

After the drill is complete, talk with your congregation about the simulation. Was there any confusion or questions? Were they able to follow the steps? What are some ideas they may have to improve the next drill?

Meet with your safety committee to discuss the feedback from your congregation and complete a drill evaluation. How can you incorporate their suggestions to improve your church’s response time? Is additional help needed for specific groups of people? What are the issues that arose from this simulation? What can you do to prevent them in the next drill?

After discussing with your safety committee, share them with the board and get Safety Sabbath on the church calendar for the next year – March 28, 2020. Begin preparing your church now to participate, and aim to improve with each practice.

For more on church safety and preparing for Safety Sabbath, register for Safety Sabbath 2020.


Elizabeth Camps is a writer and public relations specialist for Adventist Risk Management