Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Winter has arrived with Winter Storm Izzy! Much of the country is dealing with this storm and snow and ice in its path.
The images of people digging or sliding out of the storm makes you want to hunker down in a safe warm place.
This wintry mix is a good reminder to think about your church campus safety!
Most of us get excited when we see that first snowfall. However, that beautiful snow and ice also make us think about safety in the wet and slippery precipitation.
Churches Need To Prepare For Winter
Churches have taken a blow with the ongoing pandemic. They took a hit on attendance and volunteer participation.
However, most are doing their best to get people back in the door and resuming some semblance of church services.
During this season of cold and snow, churches should take measures to ensure campus safety while preparing for weekend services or other church events.
Churches Are Responsible For Campus Safety
Every church should have a goal of keeping its members, volunteers, and employees safe.
Campus safety includes maintaining an emergency plan that covers any number of unpredictable threats to safety. This includes being prepared for an armed intruder, natural disaster, or any event that threatens the safety of members.
Part of the preparation is for wintry, wet, or icy weather.
Churches don’t want to be responsible for someone falling and getting hurt while on a church campus. However, these accidents do happen and a church needs to do what is necessary to prevent those occurrences.
According to a Church Mutual Risk Reporter, “A slip-and-fall accident is one of the leading causes of unintentional injury and death in the United States. …….and the cause of death for 14,500 people each year, with adults 65 years of age and older accounting for nearly 80 percent of those deaths.”
This information creates a concern for church leadership for two reasons.
The first is the obvious safety concern for church members, volunteers, and employees. No church leader wants someone to get hurt on their watch, particularly an elderly person.
The second concern is the very real liability that comes with someone accidentally slipping and falling on campus. Gone are the days when most people would not think of taking legal action against a church.
The rise in sexual abuse in the church has opened the door to litigations that expand to all areas of oversight – including campus safety.
No one wants to deal with the fallout of an injury that could have been prevented.
4 Ways to Prepare Your Church For Winter
1. Stock Up On Supplies
There are needed supplies to help combat wintery weather.
An unexpected snowstorm can catch a church by surprise resulting in not being prepared with adequate supplies.
Take some time to do a supply inventory and make sure there is plenty of salt, shovels, mops, floor mats, and caution signs available for use.
Maintain a supply inventory checklist and restock those supplies as they are depleted.
The removal of snow and ice is often done before church service begins so have supplies readily available to the team who will clean the campus.
Keep these supplies in an area with easy access and make sure those volunteers in key leadership positions know where to find them.
2. Have a Plan
Planning is the secret to all preparation. Make sure you have a plan for snow, ice, and inclement weather plan.
Spend some time developing a plan for when the unexpected happens and train employees and volunteers on how to respond.
The more people who are trained to help the more hands there will be to rush in and support safety efforts.
For example, if a volunteer sees members tracking snow into the lobby, train them to immediately find a mop to keep the floors dry and to put down extra floor mats to absorb the melting snow.
This should be done for any type of wet weather – snow, rain, or ice.
Again, make sure volunteers know where to find the extra floor mats.
3. Keep It Clear
Make a checklist of all points of entrances to your facility to use when clearing the site.
Keep driveways, walkways, and entrances clear from snow and ice.
Black ice is the most difficult to see but can be the most dangerous to walk or drive on.
Have someone scheduled to arrive a little early to clear snow and ice from the path where members walk on campus.
Develop a volunteer team to help with this to make sure the campus is always safe to walk.
4. Fill Out An Incident Report
Despite our best efforts, there are times when someone may get hurt.
If someone does slip or fall, be sure someone fills out an incident report.
This documentation of the event will ensure that you have all the needed information should you need to file a claim with your insurance company.
The sooner a report is filled out the easier it is to recollect all the details of the incident.
For instance, you will need to collect all necessary contact information on the person so that you can follow up and have the insurance company contact them if necessary.
Make sure that whoever witnesses, or is informed of an injury, follows up and gets this paperwork completed.
Even if the person injured says they are fine, get the incident documented on paper.
Create a binder or keep a file with these reports because sometimes it is months later that a visitor will inform you that they were hurt on campus.
These incident reports are very important, particularly if an injured visitor decides at a later time to take legal action.
Insurance Companies Are Helpful Resources
Insurance companies don’t like to pay out for claims, particularly if it was an avoidable accident. Take advantage of your insurance company and use them as a resource.
Their experts can give you statistics on claims and best practices for campus safety. Ask a representative to walk through your campus with you and point out areas that you may have missed on your checklist.
Insurance companies are the experts in this and can provide you with many great tips and tools to help keep your campus safe and free from slips and falls.
Take a few moments right now and start the preparation for the next big weather event in your area.
If you are a member of SCM you can access an incident report form by logging in here. If you are not a member and would more information on our expanding library of editable forms and job descriptions click here.