What is a disaster? Disasters can be natural occurrences such as tornadoes, floods, or earthquakes, acts of terrorism, or single armed intruders in a building. All of these sudden and unexpected disasters can come about anywhere, including while in church, and one should be aware of this possibility. Although a church has many duties and priorities, the safety of the community should also be paramount. This means having a precise plan in case of a sudden calamity. This plan needs to be organized in detail so that if something happens, everyone is prepared to act.

Church Emergency Preparation Plan

A church emergency plan is a document that answers all the questions of what, where, when, how, and who in the case of a sudden calamity. The more specific the plan is, the less precious time will be lost in the event of a disaster.

  • This plan can provide information about a common gathering place in an emergency.
  • The preparation plan must take into account a potential lack of communication systems, computer systems, facility space, and employees for a couple of days after a disaster.
  • The preparation plan will require a representative team from all parts of the church to take over reorganization.

First Response

The first part of the plan is the first response to an emergency. All of the responsible representatives of different teams must be notified about this part of the plan.

  • The first response plan must include things like first aid, basic living necessities, and food and water. These supplies should be enough for one to survive for up to three days.
  • The first response phase also includes responses to media questions and a spokesperson who can represent the church.
  • To implement the plan, a church mobile app or contact list can be adapted to keep communication lines open between different members of the church.

Cleaning Up

Cleaning up is usually necessary before repairing any damage done to the church building. This should be done before church employees, volunteers, and congregants return.

  • If there is no damage, a normal cleaning should be performed before inviting everyone back.
  • In the case of major damage, a clearing of debris will be required.

Recovery

The third and final step is rehabilitating anything damaged in the building or property. This should take as much time as required for the building to be ready for the public.

  • Depending on how severe the damage to the building was, it may take days, weeks, or even months to rehabilitate all of the damaged areas.
  • For long-term recovery, it may be necessary to choose another building to temporarily serve as the church building. This is also the place where the command team can control all parts of the recovery process.

Creating a Disaster Preparedness Plan

The emergency notification plan and preparedness manual should be introduced to staff and volunteers of the church before a disaster strikes. This manual should have a couple of important points to it.

  • Steps for action in a case of a disaster should identify how the organization will gather, where it will gather, and how an evacuation will proceed.
  • Contact information to be used in case of an emergency should be provided. This information includes who should be contacted in the case of a sudden event as well as phone numbers of the employees, volunteers, and congregants of the church.
  • Information systems should be backed up ahead of time and kept in a separate, safe place.
  • Include a detailed diagram and labeling of the building layout. Building blueprints are helpful in a situation when the building needs to be evacuated quickly.
  • A first aid box should be kept in a safe and secure place away from the church building. It should contain all the necessary things that will be needed in case something happens to the church building. This box can contain the emergency preparedness manual, contact information of all employees, backup files of data, copies of church documents, computer software copies, and basic supplies such as paper, tape, and pens.

Additional Points

Once the manual is created, new parts can be added to the original plan as needed over time. It is good to check on the plan every six months and update the content with the most current information.

  • The manual can also contain a set of potential scenarios and ways that they can be handled.
  • Mandatory disaster drills should be conducted regularly following a review of the manual. This will make sure that any weaknesses in organization and understanding of the plan are seen and improved.

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