You rarely expect an emergency to affect your congregation, but realistically, an emergency situation can happen at any time. Whether it's a natural disaster or a man-made situation, you should be prepared with a plan of action, outlined and practiced ahead of time.
The Need for an Evacuation Plan
As part of emergency and disaster preparedness plans, your facility should have an evacuation plan.
Reasons for evacuation vary greatly—from fire to severe weather, violence, hazardous materials, or gas leaks. Since it's impossible to anticipate exactly what type of emergency your ministry may face, your evacuation plan should be simple enough to carry out quickly, specific enough to be helpful, and versatile enough to apply to a variety of situations.
Putting Your Plan Together
Start the process by evaluating your equipment and systems to determine if you have sufficient warning and communications tools. Identify those items in your plan.
Equipment and Systems to Consider:
- Detectors such as smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, weather radio, etc.
- Warning systems/signals throughout the facility that include both audible alarms and flashing lights.
- Communications tools: overhead public address system and/or walkie-talkies in classrooms and other key areas.
- Flashlights in classrooms and other key areas.
- Evacuation maps, posted visibly throughout the facility and specific to each area.
Next, identify essential roles and how these roles can be filled regardless of who is in the facility at the time of the event.