Christmas, Easter, and other holidays throughout the year are times of deep religious signiﬁcance and time-honored traditions. They are also times of extensive activity within the church, which requires extra attention to safety. Some hazards are unique to the Christmas season; other hazards are magniﬁed during the holidays. Ideally, safety preparations should begin months in advance. Here are a few to get you started:
Buildings and Grounds
The exterior portion of the building and grounds should be kept in good repair at all times. Reduce tripping hazards in parking lots, sidewalks and stairs. The roof should be checked to ensure it will withstand winter weather conditions.
Natural evergreen trees and garland present signiﬁcant ﬁre hazards. When selecting a tree make sure it’s a fresh one. Freshness can be determined by examining the needles. The needles of a fresh tree will be supple and will bend in half without breaking. Color may not be an indicator of freshness, as some trees are touched up with paint to give the appearance of being fresh.
Purchase only UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories) approved lighting. Outdoor lights must be designed for outdoor use. When buying new lights, purchase only lights which can be used indoors and outdoors to prevent the Christmas season confusion. Carefully check all lights before use for frayed wires, damaged insulation, loose connections and broken or cracked sockets. Discard any lights which cannot be safely repaired. Do not connect more than three strings of lights together, unless the manufacturer instructions permit.
- Hallways and exit ways should be kept free of combustible decorations. Small objects should be kept out of reach of small children.
- Candles are a beautiful decoration, but they can also be hazardous. If candles are used, they should be ﬁrmly set in sturdy holders or candelabra that will not tip over. The candles should be dripless and placed away from draperies and other combustible materials. Candles should not be left unattended and should be extinguished at the end of every service.
Heating, Cooling and Ventilating
Holidays can add an extra burden to all utility systems. Utility systems equipment, which is improperly maintained, may become dangerously overtaxed. A qualiﬁed technician should service the equipment regularly.
Fire Alarm System
The presence of Christmas decorations, as well as additional people, creates an increased ﬁre risk. Fire alarm systems should be checked regularly.
Emergency exits should be kept accessible, clearly marked, and with illuminated signs. Emergency lights should be tested to ensure they will function in the event of a power failure. During crowded services it is important that aisles and exit ways be kept clear. Ushers should know where the emergency exits are located and be trained in emergency evacuation procedures.
Taking a few common-sense steps can ensure your holiday traditions are protected and that your ministries are ready to serve. If you have questions or need more information, contact us.