Prepare for Disasters

Disaster Preparedness for Church and Family
World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) is committed to helping communities in North America that have suffered from disaster. Most often we find ourselves helping communities clean up or recover from a major disaster event by sending volunteer teams to help with community capacity building, community assessments or home reconstruction.
 
More important than recovery, however, is being prepared in the first place so as to minimize the impact of an impending disaster. Some of us live in hurricane zones and others in tornado or flood prone areas. There are things that we can all do to prepare for and minimize the damage and suffering that occurs when those kinds of disasters strike.
 
World Renew DRS has created this webpage to help churches and families prepare for disasters. As a church, we encourage you to develop a plan for your facility and congregation.  In addition to how it helps your church, being prepared will allow you to reach out and assist those in your community. We recommend forming a team and walking through the steps below which will help you develop a complete disaster preparedness plan. At the end of each section is a form to complete which will bring you one step closer to a complete plan.
 
We also encourage families to have a disaster preparedness plan. Those with plans will often escape serious injury/property loss, and will be able to recover better than those that don't.
 
History is a Great Teacher – blog post by Rev. David Myers, Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships
 

Church Preparedness

STEP 1: KNOW YOUR RISK

Disasters do not just come in the form of tornadoes, floods or hurricanes. They can range from broken water pipes and house fires effecting individuals to major storms, technological disasters and acts of terrorism that can impact entire cities, to pandemics that can effect an entire nation.  Knowing the unique risks and vulnerabilities for your geographic area is an important first step in developing a comprehensive disaster plan.

Each of the dropdown menus below provides important information for the various kinds of disasters that you should be aware of. In some cases you will also be connected to online tools for evaluating specific risks for your area. The form Step 1: KNOW YOUR RISK will give you the opportunity to record the risks for your area and will become part of your disaster plan.

In the United States, click here for a website to assist in evaluating your area. Enter your zip code and surrounding zip codes for a list of risks your area is prone to. In Canada click here and select your province. 
 
Click here for form: Step 1: KNOW YOUR RISK
 

Biological & Chemical Incidents

Biological & Chemical incidents can be both intentional and accidental. Many accidents occur in homes and garages.

Hazardous Materials Incidents 
Hazards can occur during production, storage, transportation, use or disposal. You and your community are at risk if a chemical is used unsafely or released in harmful amounts into the environment where you live, work or play. Chemical manufacturers are one source of hazardous materials, but there are many others, including service stations, hospitals and hazardous materials waste sites.

Household Chemical Emergencies 
Nearly every household uses products containing hazardous materials or chemicals. Knowing how to handle these products and how to react during an emergency can reduce the risk of injury.

Natural Disasters

Avalanches 
An avalanche occurs when built-up snow is dislodged and slides suddenly down a hill or mountain.  They can be small in size or very large depending on many factors.

Drought   
In addition to causing water shortages, droughts can create environmental conditions that increase the risk of other hazards such as wildfire, flash flood, and possible landslides and debris flow.

The sudden, rapid shaking of the earth, caused by the breaking and shifting of subterranean rock as it releases strain that has accumulated over a long time.
 
An extended period of extreme heat, and is often accompanied by high humidity.
 
Overland flooding is the most common type of flooding. This is when rivers or streams overflow their banks because of rainwater or a possible levee breach. It can also occur when rainfall or snowmelt exceeds the capacity of underground pipes, or the capacity of streets and drains designed to carry flood water away from urban areas.
 
A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
 
In a landslide, masses of rock, earth or debris move down a slope. Debris and mud flows are rivers of rock, earth, and other debris saturated with water. They develop when water rapidly accumulates in the ground, during heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt, changing the earth into a flowing river of mud or “slurry.”
 
Storm Surges 
A storm surge consists of very high waves and high water levels caused by wind and air pressure, often resulting in coastal flooding. These can happen at any time during the year.
 
Other associated dangers of thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding.
 
A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour.
 
Known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called “tidal waves”), are a series of enormous waves created by an underwater disturbance such as an earthquake, landslide, volcanic eruption, or meteorite.
 
Volcanoes are vents through which molten rock escapes to the earth’s surface. When pressure from gases within the molten rock becomes too great, an eruption occurs.
 
These fires are usually triggered by lightning or accidents. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees, and homes.

Pandemic

Pandemic  refers to any disease that spreads across to many populations. Most frequently, pandemic refers to influenza (flu) which is a virus and is contagious.

Avian flu and Swine flu are two types of flu to be most at risk of becoming pandemic in the 21st century.

Technological Disasters

Blackouts 
Blackouts can happen anywhere, and to anyone, so being prepared is important.

CyberSecurity
Learn how to protect all of your computerized technology (e.g. PCs, laptops, iPads, Notebooks and cell phones) from intentional criminal activity that could compromise your bank accounts, your identity, or simply make your equipment unusable.

Nuclear Power Plants 
An accident could result in dangerous levels of radiation that could affect the health and safety of the public living near the nuclear power plant.
      Nuclear Power Plants Near You

Terrorism

The possibility of a terrorist event occurring in your community is hard to evaluate.  In general, the risk is related to your community's proximity to large population centers, critical infrastructure (power plants, mass transportation, water treatment facilities, etc) and government facilities. Following are a list of the kinds of attacks that might be anticipated.


 

Biological agents are organisms or toxins that can kill or incapacitate people, livestock and crops. A biological attack is the deliberate release of germs or other biological substances that can make you sick.
 
Chemical agents are poisonous vapors, aerosols, liquids and solids that have toxic effects on people, animals or plants. They can be released by bombs or sprayed from aircraft, boats and vehicles. They can be used as a liquid to create a hazard to people and the environment.
 
Explosive devices can be highly portable, using vehicles and humans as a means of transport.
 
Nuclear Blasts & Leaks
A nuclear blast is an explosion with intense light and heat, a damaging pressure wave, and widespread radioactive material that can contaminate the air, water and ground surfaces for miles around. A leak could result in dangerous levels of radiation that could affect the health and safety of the public living near the nuclear power plant.
 
Terrorist use of an RDD — often called “dirty nuke” or “dirty bomb” — is considered far more likely than use of a nuclear explosive device. An RDD combines a conventional explosive device — such as a bomb — with radioactive material.
 
Suspicious Activities
Suspicious activities can range from someone looking in parked cars, to someone acting erratically, to someone in an area where they don’t belong, to an active shooter. This person or persons can be a familiar face or a stranger.
 

STEP 2: GENERAL QUESTIONS TO ASK

Reducing the risk of disasters for your church facility may involve improvements to the physical building but it will certainly involve planning in the areas of document storage, insurance coverage and more. Assigning critical responsibilities and keeping these assignments up-to-date is an important part of having an effective plan.

Click here for form: Step 2: GENERAL QUESTIONS TO ASK

  • Do we have and know what our insurance coverage is in the event of a disaster?

  • Does your insurance policy cover your church facility for the types of disasters that your area may have? Review the policy regularly.
    National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

  • Do we have a current inventory of church property?
    Annual inventory of church property should include photographs or videos and be kept with the important church documents.

  • Are important church documents stored in a good and safe place?
    - Membership records
    - Legal documents (church’s deeds, mortgages, property abstracts, incorporation documents, insurance policies)
    - Minutes of the church’s business meetings
    - Cemetery records
    - Architectural drawings & blueprints
    - Photographs and videos
    - Documents of historical value

  • Who makes the decision to cancel and restart services or weekly activities?
    - How is the congregation notified? After a disaster the regular means of communication (phone lines, TV, etc.) may be down.
    - If the church building is damaged is there an alternate meeting location?

  • Who is trained to turn off church utilities such as water, gas, electric, etc.? Are shut off valves and electrical disconnects clearly marked?

  • What is the process of checking on those in the congregation with access or functional needs (those with disabilities as well as the elderly) in the event that severe weather (high heat) or a disaster impacts your community?
    10 Considerations for Someone with Special Needs 
    Individuals with Access or Functional Needs

  • Survey the congregation for skills, assets and knowledge. 
    - Compile the information
    - Use the information to identify key people to help during this time of preparedness and also after a disaster.

  • How will the church encourage families to create their own emergency plan?
    - Education and preparedness are important to surviving and recovering from disasters. People that are prepared and know what to do in the event of a disaster are better able to recover and help others. 

STEP 3: REDUCE YOUR RISK AND PREPARE

Once you KNOW YOUR RISK, it is important to learn about the kinds of steps you can take as a community, church, or individual homeowner in order to help reduce the risk of damage to property, personal injury to people or pets, or even loss of life in the event that a disaster strikes. This is called Disaster Risk Reduction or Mitigation. Some of these steps are fairly simple, involving planning and building low cost safety and emergency kits. Other steps involve physical improvements to your property, which can require some financial investment. In those cases it is worth investigating possible government incentives as well as insurance premium savings that would result from the investment. Below are several areas of disaster risks along with links to information on REDUCE YOUR RISK & PREPARE.

Below is a list of risks and talking points on how to strengthen your facility and prepare. Use the talking points to complete the REDUCE YOUR RISK & PREPARE form for each risk you determined in Step 1: KNOW YOUR RISK. A form for each risk is found at the beginning of each section and it will become part of your disaster plan.

BIOLOGICAL & CHEMICAL INCIDENTS

Hazardous Materials Incidents

Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (HAZARDOUS MATERIALS INCIDENTS)

  • Do you have shelter-in-place locations designated if emergency responders advise people to stay inside? 
    - Canada
    - US

  • Are the shelters clearly marked and does the congregation know where they are?

  • Is there a process for assisting those with access or functional needs (includes those with disabilities and the elderly) to the shelter?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to direct people where to go? If so, who? (This can be names of individuals or positions such as deacons, user, greeters, etc.)

  • Is there a system to make sure everyone in the building is in a shelter area?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to count people entering shelter-in-place locations to not overcrowd these rooms?

  • Is there a communication system in place for individuals tasked to direct people and people in the shelter-in-place locations (radios, phones, etc.)?

  • Are supplies to seal the shelter in the room and is there someone assigned to seal the room if needed?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

Household Chemical Emergencies

Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (HOUSEHOLD CHEMICAL EMERGENCIES)

  • Do you have an inventory of the household chemicals in the church?

  • Do those that handle these chemicals know the proper way to use these chemicals? Do have use the right protective equipment (gloves, goggles, etc.)?

  • Are these chemicals stored properly?

  • What type of First Aid is needed if someone is exposed to these chemicals?

  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) may help with proper storage, handling, and first aid.

FIRES

Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (FIRE) 

  • Who services the smoke and fire alarm system?

  • Are fire extinguishers clearly marked and is there a maintenance schedule?

  • Are fire evacuation plans posted?

  • Do children know what to do in the event of a fire?

  • Is there a process for assisting those with access or functional needs (includes those with disabilities and the elderly) with evacuation?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

  • In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders.

NATURAL DISASTERS

Avalanche
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (AVALANCHES)

  • Does the congregation know what to do during an avalanche?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

Drought
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (DROUGHT)

  • Are you doing as much as you can to conserve water indoors and outdoors? 

Earthquakes
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (EARTHQUAKES)

  • Strengthen your facility:
    - US
    - Canada

  • Does your congregation know what to do during an earthquake

  • Are there people assigned to assist those with functional or access needs (includes those with disabilities and the elderly)?

  • Who is trained to turn off church utilities such as water, gas, electric, etc? Are shut off valves and electrical disconnects clearly marked?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders.

Extreme Heat
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (EXTREME HEAT)

  • Strengthen your facility

  • Is there a plan in plan to check on those in your congregation with functional or access needs (includes those with disabilities and the elderly)?

Floods
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (FLOODS)

Hurricanes
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (HURRICANES)

Landslide & Debris Flow (Mudslides)
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (LANDSLIDES & DEBRIS FLOW)

  • Strengthen your facility

  • Does the congregation know what to do in the event of a landslide (mudslide)? 

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

Storm Surge
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (STORM SURGE)

Thunderstorms & Lightning
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (THUNDERSTORMS & LIGHTNING)

Tornadoes
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (TORNADOES)

  • Strengthen your facility

  • Do you have a warning system in place and is it monitored? (Example: NOAA Weather Radio)

  • Have tornado shelters (“shelter-in-place”) been designated and are they clearly marked? Do people know where they are located?

  • Do you have handicap assessable shelter-in-place locations?

  • Is the maximum capacity known for each location and marked?

  • Are there maps indicating where shelter-in-place areas are?

  • Are there individuals assigned to assist with people needing assistance (elderly, handicap, hearing impaired, etc.)?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to direct people where to go? If so, who? (This can be names of individuals or positions such as deacons, user, greeters, etc.)

  • Is there a system to make sure everyone in the building is in a shelter area?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to count people entering shelter-in-place locations to not overcrowd these rooms?

  • Is there a communication system in place for individuals tasked to direct people and people in the shelter-in-place locations (radios, phones, etc.)?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

  • In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders.

Tsunamis
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (TSUNAMIS)

 

Volcanoes
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (VOLCANOES)

  • Prepare for a volcanic eruption 

  • Evacuation
    - Do you have a way to announce to the congregation on the route to evacuate the area?

  • Shelter-in-place
    - Have shelter-in-place locations been designated and are they clearly marked? Do people know where they are located?
    - Do you have handicap assessable shelter-in-place locations?
    - Is the maximum capacity known for each location and marked?
    - Are there maps indicating where shelter-in-place areas are?
    - Are there individuals assigned to assist with people needing assistance (elderly, handicap, hearing impaired, etc.)
    Are there certain individuals assigned to direct people where to go? If so, who? (This can be names of individuals or positions such as deacons, user, greeters, etc.)
    - there a system to make sure everyone in the building is in a shelter area?
    - Are there certain individuals assigned to count people entering shelter-in-place locations to not overcrowd these rooms?
    - Is there a communication system in place for individuals tasked to direct people and people in the shelter-in-place locations (radios, phones, etc.)?
    - In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders.

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

Winter Weather
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (WINTER WEATHER)

Wildfires
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (WILDFIRES)

PANDEMIC

Click here for form: Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (PANDEMIC)

  • Are “everyday” precautions taken to reduce the spread of germs?
    - Hand sanitizer available
    - “How to” posted in restrooms on proper hand washing

  • Is there a policy in nursery regarding sick children

  • To shake hands or not, during flu season? December – March has high flu activity.

  • Who makes the decision to cancel and restart services or weekly activities in the event of a pandemic?
    - How is the congregation notified? 

TECHNOLOGICAL DISASTERS

Blackouts

Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (BLACKOUTS)

  • Do any utilities need to be shut off during a blackout? If so, who is responsible? 

 

Cyber Security          
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (CYBER SECURITY)

Nuclear Power Plants           
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS)

  • If an accident at a nuclear power plant releases radiation and local authorities activate a warning siren, do you have shelters clearly marked?

  • Are there items located in the shelter to seal the room?

  • Do you have handicap assessable shelter-in-place locations?

  • Is the maximum capacity known for each location and marked?

  • Are there maps indicating where shelter-in-place areas are?

  • Are there individuals assigned to assist with people needing assistance (elderly, handicap, hearing impaired, etc.)?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to direct people where to go? If so, who? (This can be names of individuals or positions such as deacons, user, greeters, etc.)

  • Is there a system to make sure everyone in the building is in a shelter area?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to count people entering shelter-in-place locations to not overcrowd these rooms?

  • Is there a communication system in place for individuals tasked to direct people and people in the shelter-in-place locations (radios, phones, etc.)?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

  • In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders.

TERRORISM

Biological Threats
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (BIOLOGICAL THREATS)

  • Strengthen your facility
    - Do you have the correct filtration in your structure?
    - Do you need to have High-Efficiency Particulate Air Filters?

Chemical Threats
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (CHEMICAL THREATS)

  • If there is a chemical threat does your congregation know what to do?
    - Evacuate without passing through the contaminated area.
    - If you need to shelter-in-place:
         > Are there items located in the shelter to seal the room?
         > Do you have handicap assessable shelter-in-place locations
         > Is the maximum capacity known for each location and marked?
         > Are there maps indicating where shelter-in-place areas are?
         > Are there individuals assigned to assist with people needing assistance (elderly, handicap, hearing impaired, etc.)?
         > Are there certain individuals assigned to direct people where to go? If so, who? (This can be names of individuals or positions such as deacons, user, greeters, etc.)
         > Is there a system to make sure everyone in the building is in a shelter area?
         > Are there certain individuals assigned to count people entering shelter-in-place locations to not overcrowd these rooms?
         > Is there a communication system in place for individuals tasked to direct people and people in the shelter-in-place locations (radios, phones, etc.)?
         > In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders.

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

Explosions
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (EXPLOSIONS)

  • Suspicious packages and letters

  • How will the building be evacuated?

  • Does your congregation know what to do in the event of an explosion

  • If there is an explosion you most likely would put your fire evacuation plan into action


Nuclear Blasts & Leaks
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (NUCLEAR BLASTS & LEAKS)

  • Determine what type of shelter (blast and fallout) is needed. 

  • If there is a nuclear blast or leak and local authorities activate a warning siren, do you have shelters clearly marked?

  • Are there items located in the shelter to seal the room?

  • Do you have handicap assessable shelter-in-place locations?

  • Is the maximum capacity known for each location and marked?

  • Are there maps indicating where shelter-in-place areas are?

  • Are there individuals assigned to assist with people needing assistance (elderly, handicap, hearing impaired, etc.)?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to direct people where to go? If so, who? (This can be names of individuals or positions such as deacons, user, greeters, etc.)

  • Is there a system to make sure everyone in the building is in a shelter area?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to count people entering shelter-in-place locations to not overcrowd these rooms?

  • Is there a communication system in place for individuals tasked to d irect people and people in the shelter-in-place locations (radios, phones, etc.)?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

  • In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders


Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD)
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (RDD)

  • Determine what type of shelter (blast and fallout) is needed 

  • If there is RDD event and local authorities activate a warning siren, do you have shelters clearly marked?

  • Are there items located in the shelter to seal the room?

  • Do you have handicap assessable shelter-in-place locations?

  • Is the maximum capacity known for each location and marked?

  • Are there maps indicating where shelter-in-place areas are?

  • Are there individuals assigned to assist with people needing assistance (elderly, handicap, hearing impaired, etc.)?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to direct people where to go? If so, who? (This can be names of individuals or positions such as deacons, user, greeters, etc.)

  • Is there a system to make sure everyone in the building is in a shelter area?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to count people entering shelter-in-place locations to not overcrowd these rooms?

  • Is there a communication system in place for individuals tasked to direct people and people in the shelter-in-place locations (radios, phones, etc.)?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

  • In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders.


Suspicious Activities
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITIES)

  • How do you report suspicious activity

  • Train members on what actions to look for. 
    - “Odd behavior” is what is not normal. A witness may respond by thinking “that’s weird”.
    - “Suspicious behavior” is behavior where a witness would think “that is not normal” and would feel uncomfortable.
    - “Dangerous behavior” the person is emotional, may show or imply there is a weapon, and is a situation that could result in potential injuries.

  • Is there a plan in place in regards to a shooter in the building?
    - Does the congregation know what to do?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

STEP 4: MEDICAL EMERGENCIES

Click here for form: 
Step 4: MEDICAL EMERGENCIES

  • Do members know what to do in the event of a medical emergency at church?
    - Remember that medical emergencies can happen at any time, not only during the service.

First Aid & CPR Training

  • Identify trained medical professionals in the congregation – medical doctors, nurses, physician assistants, nursing assistants, etc. Check to make sure they are will to get involved in the event of a disaster or medical emergency.

  • Are there others who have been trained in First Aid & CPR? The Red Cross or your local hospital will offer training classes.
    - American Red Cross
    - Canadian Red Cross

  • Does our church have an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) ?
    - If so, are people trained in its use?
    - Is the location of the AED clearly marked?

First Aid Kits

  • Who is responsible to keep First Aid kits stocked and up-to-date? 

  • Does the congregation know where first aid kits are located?
    - Are they clearly marked?
    - Are the first aid kits in easy to reach places?

STEP 5: HELPING YOUR COMMUNITY

When a major disaster hits your community your first responsibility is to reach out to your congregation and ensure that all is well with them. But then, in keeping with the Lord's encouragement that we let our lights shine by bringing God's love to a hurting world, there may be opportunity to reach out to those in the surrounding community who have been affected by the disaster. People will look to the church for help, and you should prepare in advance for how you may provide physical as well as spiritual assistance to those in need. Below are some questions to help you recognize areas where you will be able to help in the community.

Contact your local Emergency Manager (in the US) for ways you can help (after clicking on the link, click “More” and it will bring you to a page where you can find “Local Information").

If the Church and families in the congregation are prepared for an impending disaster, the quicker they will be able to take care of their personal needs and then focus on the needs in the Community.  If people are not prepared they will be unable to effectively help others. 

Consider if and how your church can help the community after a disaster.  Below are some questions to help you recognize areas where you will be able to help in the community.

How can the church meet the spiritual needs of the community ?

When a disaster strikes a community people often wonder where God was at the time of the disaster, or why He allowed it to happen.  In most cases it is not appropriate to try to answer that question, but rather we should take the opportunity to show through our actions how God's love is always with us, particularly in the aftermath of a disaster. 

The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:3,4

 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

Specific things that you can do to provide spiritual support to your community include:

  • Schedule a time of prayer for the community where all are welcome to come.

  • Designate spiritual care providers: Does the Church have people willing to help those in community with their spiritual needs? This might include the pastoral staff, but also others in the congregation with a heart for hurting people. Maintain a list of volunteers who are willing to meet people, listen to their stories, pray with them, and help to provide assistance in meeting their physical needs. A training class can be arranged using the Church World Service Community Arise disaster curriculum

  • Using the following questions as a guide, develop a plan for how your church can be a resource for your community after a disaster.

As a church, what resources do we have to help our community?

Your church has an abundance of resources that might prove to be very valuable after a disaster. Skills in the congregation that are often needed include nurses, construction workers, managers, case workers and more. You also have potential donors who may be very willing to help their own community. Finally, you have your church building, which could be used as a shelter, a feeding station, food pantry and/or a place to house volunteers who come to the area to help with cleanup or rebuilding. Steps you can take include:

  • Check with your local Emergency Manager or  American Red Cross / Canadian Red Cross in order to learn more about what it takes to become an approved shelter or feeding station.

  • Contact World Renew Disaster Response Services (800-848-5818) to learn more about hosting out-of-town volunteers to help with the disaster recovery program.

  • Document individuals in the congregation and their skills who would be willing to get involved in a disaster recovery program.

  • Schedule an introductory training session using the Community Arise disaster curriculum. The curriculum has eight different training modules, so the best is to start with the Basic Disaster Ministry module.

  • Have a speaker from World Renew Disaster Response Services (800-848-5818) come to meet with your deacons and/or disaster preparedness team to help with the development of your plan and to talk in more detail about how your church might get involved in disaster recovery in your community.

What organizations in the community can we partner with?

World Renew Disaster Response Services has many partners throughout North America, and some have a presence in local communities such as yours. Please call our office at 800-848-5818 to learn more. Following is a partial list of those partners - to learn more about each of these organizations click on the link provided.

National VOAD is a US based member organization with over 50 disaster response non-profit members. There are also State and community VOAD's around the country. Much of this can be found on the National VOAD website, or World Renew Disaster Response Services can help you connect to your local chapter. After major disasters the members of National VOAD often help to form community based long term recover groups, which oversee the recovery process. When sending resources and/or volunteers to a community World Renew Disaster Response Services always works through these community based entities.

In Canada, World Renew Disaster Response Services has a formal relationship with Samaritan's Purse and Mennonite Disaster Services. We often respond together in the event of a disaster that impacts Canadian communities.

Click here for form: Step 5: HELPING YOUR COMMUNITY

 

After Your Church Disaster Plan is Completed

You have decided what types of disasters to prepare for, made necessary repairs and changes, trained personnel, found ways in which your church can provide help in the community, and encouraged the congregation to create a family plan. Now what do you do with the disaster plan?

The disaster plan should be reviewed annually to ensure that everything is current. As a church, share your disaster plan with the local emergency manager so that they know you are prepared and willing to provide help to your community after a disaster. Encourage other churches and organizations to create a disaster plan of their own.

Practice your disaster plan. It is important to continually run through different parts of your disaster plan so what to do in the event of a disaster is fresh in the minds of the congregation.

 

Family Preparedness

Every family should have a disaster preparedness plan, even if you do not live in a hurricane or earthquake zone or in a flood plain. A family preparedness plan should also cover home fires and plans if family members are in different locations. The families that are prepared reduce the risk of property damage and/or personal injury or death as a result of a disaster. 

STEP 1: KNOW YOUR RISK

Disasters do not just come in the form of tornadoes, floods or hurricanes. They can range from broken water pipes and house fires effecting individuals to major storms, technological disasters and acts of terrorism that can impact entire cities, to pandemics that can effect an entire nation.  Knowing the unique risks and vulnerabilities for your geographic area is an important first step in developing a comprehensive disaster plan.

The following sections provide important information for the various kinds of disasters that you should be aware of. In some cases website links will be available for evaluating specific risks for your area. The form Step 1:  KNOW YOUR RISK will be helpful to record the risks for your area. The form will give you a chance to determine the likelihood and impact for each risk and become part of your disaster plan. 

In the United States, click here for a website to assist in evaluating your area. Enter your zip code and surrounding zip codes for a list of risks your area is prone to. In Canada click here  and select your province.
 

Biological & Chemical Incidents

Biological & Chemical incidents can be both intentional and accidental. Many accidents occur in homes and garages.

Hazardous Materials Incidents 
Hazards can occur during production, storage, transportation, use or disposal. You and your community are at risk if a chemical is used unsafely or released in harmful amounts into the environment where you live, work or play. Chemical manufacturers are one source of hazardous materials, but there are many others, including service stations, hospitals and hazardous materials waste sites.

Household Chemical Emergencies 
Nearly every household uses products containing hazardous materials or chemicals. Knowing how to handle these products and how to react during an emergency can reduce the risk of injury.

Natural Disasters

Avalanches 
An avalanche occurs when built-up snow is dislodged and slides suddenly down a hill or mountain.  They can be small in size or very large depending on many factors.

Drought   
In addition to causing water shortages, droughts can create environmental conditions that increase the risk of other hazards such as wildfire, flash flood, and possible landslides and debris flow.

The sudden, rapid shaking of the earth, caused by the breaking and shifting of subterranean rock as it releases strain that has accumulated over a long time.
 
An extended period of extreme heat, and is often accompanied by high humidity.
 
Overland flooding is the most common type of flooding. This is when rivers or streams overflow their banks because of rainwater or a possible levee breach. It can also occur when rainfall or snowmelt exceeds the capacity of underground pipes, or the capacity of streets and drains designed to carry flood water away from urban areas.
 
A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
 
In a landslide, masses of rock, earth or debris move down a slope. Debris and mud flows are rivers of rock, earth, and other debris saturated with water. They develop when water rapidly accumulates in the ground, during heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt, changing the earth into a flowing river of mud or “slurry.”
 
Storm Surges 
A storm surge consists of very high waves and high water levels caused by wind and air pressure, often resulting in coastal flooding. These can happen at any time during the year.
 
Other associated dangers of thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding.
 
A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour.
 
Known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called “tidal waves”), are a series of enormous waves created by an underwater disturbance such as an earthquake, landslide, volcanic eruption, or meteorite.
 
Volcanoes are vents through which molten rock escapes to the earth’s surface. When pressure from gases within the molten rock becomes too great, an eruption occurs.
 
These fires are usually triggered by lightning or accidents. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees, and homes.

Pandemic

Pandemic  refers to any disease that spreads across to many populations. Most frequently, pandemic refers to influenza (flu) which is a virus and is contagious.

Avian flu and Swine flu are two types of flu to be most at risk of becoming pandemic in the 21st century.

Technological Disasters

Blackouts 
Blackouts can happen anywhere, and to anyone, so being prepared is important.

CyberSecurity
Learn how to protect all of your computerized technology (e.g. PCs, laptops, iPads, Notebooks and cell phones) from intentional criminal activity that could compromise your bank accounts, your identity, or simply make your equipment unusable.

Nuclear Power Plants 
An accident could result in dangerous levels of radiation that could affect the health and safety of the public living near the nuclear power plant.
      Nuclear Power Plants Near You

Terrorism

The possibility of a terrorist event occurring in your community is hard to evaluate.  In general, the risk is related to your community's proximity to large population centers, critical infrastructure (power plants, mass transportation, water treatment facilities, etc) and government facilities. Following are a list of the kinds of attacks that might be anticipated.


 

Biological agents are organisms or toxins that can kill or incapacitate people, livestock and crops. A biological attack is the deliberate release of germs or other biological substances that can make you sick.
 
Chemical agents are poisonous vapors, aerosols, liquids and solids that have toxic effects on people, animals or plants. They can be released by bombs or sprayed from aircraft, boats and vehicles. They can be used as a liquid to create a hazard to people and the environment.
 
Explosive devices can be highly portable, using vehicles and humans as a means of transport.
 
Nuclear Blasts & Leaks
A nuclear blast is an explosion with intense light and heat, a damaging pressure wave, and widespread radioactive material that can contaminate the air, water and ground surfaces for miles around. A leak could result in dangerous levels of radiation that could affect the health and safety of the public living near the nuclear power plant.
 
Terrorist use of an RDD — often called “dirty nuke” or “dirty bomb” — is considered far more likely than use of a nuclear explosive device. An RDD combines a conventional explosive device — such as a bomb — with radioactive material.
 
Suspicious Activities
Suspicious activities can range from someone looking in parked cars, to someone acting erratically, to someone in an area where they don’t belong, to an active shooter. This person or persons can be a familiar face or a stranger.

STEP 2: GENERAL QUESTIONS TO ASK

As you think about these questions think about your home and family versus church and congregation.

Reducing the risk of disasters for your church facility may involve improvements to the physical building but it will certainly involve planning in the areas of document storage, insurance coverage and more. Assigning critical responsibilities and keeping these assignments up-to-date is an important part of having an effective plan.

Click here for form: Step 2: GENERAL QUESTIONS TO ASK

  • Do we have and know what our insurance coverage is in the event of a disaster?
     
  • Does your insurance policy cover your church facility for the types of disasters that your area may have?Review the policy regularly.
    National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
  • Do we have a current inventory of church property?

    Annual inventory of church property should include photographs or videos and be kept with the important church documents.

  • Are important church documents stored in a good and safe place?
    - Membership records
    - Legal documents (church’s deeds, mortgages, property abstracts, incorporation documents, insurance policies)
    - Minutes of the church’s business meetings
    - Cemetery records
    - Architectural drawings & blueprints
    - Photographs and videos
    - Documents of historical value

  • Who makes the decision to cancel and restart services or weekly activities?
    - How is the congregation notified? After a disaster the regular means of communication (phone lines, TV, etc.) may be down.
    - If the church building is damaged is there an alternate meeting location?
     
  • Who is trained to turn off church utilities such as water, gas, electric, etc.? Are shut off valves and electrical disconnects clearly marked?
     
  • What is the process of checking on those in the congregation with access or functional needs (those with disabilities as well as the elderly) in the event that severe weather (high heat) or a disaster impacts your community?
    10 Considerations for Someone with Special Needs 
    Individuals with Access or Functional Needs
     
  • Survey the congregation for skills, assets and knowledge. 
    - Compile the information
    - Use the information to identify key people to help during this time of preparedness and also after a disaster.
     
  • How will the church encourage families to create their own emergency plan?
    - Education and preparedness are important to surviving and recovering from disasters. People that are prepared and know what to do in the event of a disaster are better able to recover and help others. 

STEP 3: REDUCE YOUR RISK AND PREPARE

Once you KNOW YOUR RISK, it is important to learn about the kinds of steps you can take as a community, church, or individual homeowner in order to help reduce the risk of damage to property, personal injury to people or pets, or even loss of life in the event that a disaster strikes. This is called Disaster Risk Reduction or Mitigation. Some of these steps are fairly simple, involving planning and building low cost safety and emergency kits. Other steps involve physical improvements to your property, which can require some financial investment. In those cases it is worth investigating possible government incentives as well as insurance premium savings that would result from the investment. Below are several areas of disaster risks along with links to information on REDUCE YOUR RISK & PREPARE.

Below is a list of risks and talking points on how to strengthen your facility and prepare. Use the talking points to complete the REDUCE YOUR RISK & PREPARE form for each risk you determined in Step 1: KNOW YOUR RISK. A form for each risk is found at the beginning of each section and it will become part of your disaster plan.

As you review these questions, think about your home and family versus the church and congregation. 

BIOLOGICAL & CHEMICAL INCIDENTS

Hazardous Materials Incidents
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (HAZARDOUS MATERIALS INCIDENTS)

  • Do you have shelter-in-place locations designated if emergency responders advise people to stay inside? 
    Canada
    US

  • Are the shelters clearly marked and does the congregation know where they are?

  • Is there a process for assisting those with access or functional needs (includes those with disabilities and the elderly) to the shelter?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to direct people where to go? If so, who? (This can be names of individuals or positions such as deacons, user, greeters, etc.)

  • Is there a system to make sure everyone in the building is in a shelter area?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to count people entering shelter-in-place locations to not overcrowd these rooms?

  • Is there a communication system in place for individuals tasked to direct people and people in the shelter-in-place locations (radios, phones, etc.)?

  • Are supplies to seal the shelter in the room and is there someone assigned to seal the room if needed?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

Household Chemical Emergencies
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (HOUSEHOLD CHEMICAL EMERGENCIES)

  • Do you have an inventory of the household chemicals in the church?

  • Do those that handle these chemicals know the proper way to use these chemicals? Do have use the right protective equipment (gloves, goggles, etc.)?

  • Are these chemicals stored properly?

  • What type of First Aid is needed if someone is exposed to these chemicals?

  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) may help with proper storage, handling, and first aid. 

FIRES

Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (FIRES)

  • Who services the smoke and fire alarm system?

  • Are fire extinguishers clearly marked and is there a maintenance schedule?

  • Are fire evacuation plans posted?

  • Do children know what to do in the event of a fire?

  • Is there a process for assisting those with access or functional needs (includes those with disabilities and the elderly) with evacuation?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - During Sunday School
    At weeknight activities
    - In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders.

NATURAL DISASTERS

Avalanches
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (AVALANCHES)

  • Does the congregation know what to do during an avalanche

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities


Drought
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (DROUGHT)

Earthquakes
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (EARTHQUAKES)

  • Strengthen your facility:
    US
    - Canada

  • Does your congregation know what to do during an earthquake?

  • Are there people assigned to assist those with functional or access needs (includes those with disabilities and the elderly)?

  • Who is trained to turn off church utilities such as water, gas, electric, etc? Are shut off valves and electrical disconnects clearly marked?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders.

Extreme Heat
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (EXTREME HEAT)

  • Strengthen your facility

  • Is there a plan in plan to check on those in your congregation with functional or access needs (includes those with disabilities and the elderly)?

Floods
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (FLOODS)

Hurricanes
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (HURRICANES)

Landslide & Debris Flow (Mudslides)
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (LANDSLIDES & DEBRIS FLOW)

  • Strengthen your facility 

  • Does the congregation know what to do in the event of a landslide (mudslide)?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities


Storm Surge
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (STORM SURGE)

  • Strengthen your facility

  • Does your congregation know what to do? 

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

Thunderstorms & Lightning
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (THUNDERSTORMS & LIGHTNING)

Tornadoes
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (TORNADOES)

  • Strengthen your facility

  • Do you have a warning system in place and is it monitored? (Example: NOAA Weather Radio)

  • Have tornado shelters (“shelter-in-place”) been designated and are they clearly marked? Do people know where they are located?

  • Do you have handicap assessable shelter-in-place locations?

  • Is the maximum capacity known for each location and marked?

  • Are there maps indicating where shelter-in-place areas are?

  • Are there individuals assigned to assist with people needing assistance (elderly, handicap, hearing impaired, etc.)?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to direct people where to go? If so, who? (This can be names of individuals or positions such as deacons, user, greeters, etc.)

  • Is there a system to make sure everyone in the building is in a shelter area?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to count people entering shelter-in-place locations to not overcrowd these rooms?

  • Is there a communication system in place for individuals tasked to direct people and people in the shelter-in-place locations (radios, phones, etc.)?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

  • In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders.


Tsunamis
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (TSUNAMIS)

Volcanoes
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (VOLCANOES)

  • Prepare for a volcanic eruption 

  • Evacuation
    - Do you have a way to announce to the congregation on the route to evacuate the area?

  • Shelter-in-place
    - Have shelter-in-place locations been designated and are they clearly marked? Do people know where they are located?
    - Do you have handicap assessable shelter-in-place locations?
    - Is the maximum capacity known for each location and marked?
    - Are there maps indicating where shelter-in-place areas are?
    - Are there individuals assigned to assist with people needing assistance (elderly, handicap, hearing impaired, etc.)
    Are there certain individuals assigned to direct people where to go? If so, who? (This can be names of individuals or positions such as deacons, user, greeters, etc.)
    - there a system to make sure everyone in the building is in a shelter area?
    - Are there certain individuals assigned to count people entering shelter-in-place locations to not overcrowd these rooms?
    - Is there a communication system in place for individuals tasked to direct people and people in the shelter-in-place locations (radios, phones, etc.)?
    - In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders.

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

Winter Weather
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE WINTER WEATHER)

Wildfires
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (WILDFIRES)

PANDEMIC

Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (PANDEMIC)

  • Are “everyday” precautions taken to reduce the spread of germs
    - Hand sanitizer available
    - “How to” posted in restrooms on proper hand washing

  • Is there a policy in nursery regarding sick children?

  • To shake hands or not, during flu season? December – March has high flu activity.

  • Who makes the decision to cancel and restart services or weekly activities in the event of a pandemic?
    - How is the congregation notified? 

TECHNOLOGICAL DISASTERS

Blackouts
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (BLACKOUTS)

  • Do any utilities need to be shut off during a blackout? If so, who is responsible?

Cyber Security          
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (CYBER SECURITY)

Nuclear Power Plants           
Click here for form:
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS)

  • If an accident at a nuclear power plant releases radiation and local authorities activate a warning siren, do you have shelters clearly marked?

  • Are there items located in the shelter to seal the room?

  • Do you have handicap assessable shelter-in-place locations?

  • Is the maximum capacity known for each location and marked?

  • Are there maps indicating where shelter-in-place areas are?

  • Are there individuals assigned to assist with people needing assistance (elderly, handicap, hearing impaired, etc.)?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to direct people where to go? If so, who? (This can be names of individuals or positions such as deacons, user, greeters, etc.)

  • Is there a system to make sure everyone in the building is in a shelter area?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to count people entering shelter-in-place locations to not overcrowd these rooms?

  • Is there a communication system in place for individuals tasked to direct people and people in the shelter-in-place locations (radios, phones, etc.)?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

  • In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders.

TERRORISM

Biological Threats
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (BIOLOGICAL THREATS)

  • Strengthen your facility
    - Do you have the correct filtration in your structure?
    - Do you need to have High-Efficiency Particulate Air Filters?


Chemical Threats
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (CHEMICAL THREATS)

  • If there is a chemical threat does your congregation know what to do?
    - Evacuate without passing through the contaminated area.
    - If you need to shelter-in-place:
         > Are there items located in the shelter to seal the room?
         > Do you have handicap assessable shelter-in-place locations
         > Is the maximum capacity known for each location and marked?
         > Are there maps indicating where shelter-in-place areas are?
         > Are there individuals assigned to assist with people needing assistance (elderly, handicap, hearing impaired, etc.)?
         > Are there certain individuals assigned to direct people where to go? If so, who? (This can be names of individuals or positions such as deacons, user, greeters, etc.)
         > Is there a system to make sure everyone in the building is in a shelter area?
         > Are there certain individuals assigned to count people entering shelter-in-place locations to not overcrowd these rooms?
         > Is there a communication system in place for individuals tasked to direct people and people in the shelter-in-place locations (radios, phones, etc.)?
         > In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders.

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

Explosions
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (EXPLOSIONS)

  • Suspicious packages and letters

  • How will the building be evacuated?

  • Does your congregation know what to do in the event of an explosion?

  • If there is an explosion you most likely would put your fire evacuation plan into action


Nuclear Blasts & Leaks
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (NUCLEAR BLASTS & LEAKS)

  • Determine what type of shelter (blast and fallout) is needed.

  • If there is a nuclear blast or leak and local authorities activate a warning siren, do you have shelters clearly marked?

  • Are there items located in the shelter to seal the room?

  • Do you have handicap assessable shelter-in-place locations?

  • Is the maximum capacity known for each location and marked?

  • Are there maps indicating where shelter-in-place areas are?

  • Are there individuals assigned to assist with people needing assistance (elderly, handicap, hearing impaired, etc.)?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to direct people where to go? If so, who? (This can be names of individuals or positions such as deacons, user, greeters, etc.)

  • Is there a system to make sure everyone in the building is in a shelter area?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to count people entering shelter-in-place locations to not overcrowd these rooms?

  • Is there a communication system in place for individuals tasked to d irect people and people in the shelter-in-place locations (radios, phones, etc.)?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

  • In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders

Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD)
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (RDD)

  • Determine what type of shelter (blast and fallout) is needed 

  • If there is RDD event and local authorities activate a warning siren, do you have shelters clearly marked?

  • Are there items located in the shelter to seal the room?

  • Do you have handicap assessable shelter-in-place locations?

  • Is the maximum capacity known for each location and marked?

  • Are there maps indicating where shelter-in-place areas are?

  • Are there individuals assigned to assist with people needing assistance (elderly, handicap, hearing impaired, etc.)?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to direct people where to go? If so, who? (This can be names of individuals or positions such as deacons, user, greeters, etc.)

  • Is there a system to make sure everyone in the building is in a shelter area?

  • Are there certain individuals assigned to count people entering shelter-in-place locations to not overcrowd these rooms?

  • Is there a communication system in place for individuals tasked to direct people and people in the shelter-in-place locations (radios, phones, etc.)?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

  • In the event of a Search & Rescue, a map of the facility located by the entrance can be helpful for first responders.


Suspicious Activities
Click here for form: 
Step 3: HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK & PREPARE (SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITIES)

  • How do you report suspicious activity

  • Train members on what actions to look for. 
    - “Odd behavior” is what is not normal. A witness may respond by thinking “that’s weird”.
    - “Suspicious behavior” is behavior where a witness would think “that is not normal” and would feel uncomfortable.
    - “Dangerous behavior” the person is emotional, may show or imply there is a weapon, and is a situation that could result in potential injuries.

  • Is there a plan in place in regards to a shooter in the building?
    - Does the congregation know what to do?

  • Are drills conducted regularly? Conduct drills at different times
    - After church service when people are in the foyer
    - During Sunday School
    - At weeknight activities

STEP 4: PERSONAL PREPAREDNESS/DEVELOPING A FAMILY PLAN

Every family should have a disaster preparedness plan, even if you do not live in a hurricane or earthquake zone or in a flood plain. Families that are prepared reduce the risk of property damage and/or personal injury of death as a result of a disaster. They are also able to recovery sooner after a disaster. Encourage those in your congregation as well as others in your community to develop a family plan. Below are the steps to creating a family plan.

  1. Knowledge and Reducing Your Risk
    Determine which disasters to prepare for and what preventative measures can be taken to strengthen your home. 

  2. Make a Plan
    Remember that you may not all be together when a disaster hits. So, think of different scenarios and practice them so everyone in the family knows what to do. It may be that the family needs to evacuate your home immediately. Make sure that everyone, in particular your children, know the fastest exit. 
    Make a Plan
    Home Fires

    For those in Canada, click here for information.

  3. Build a Kit  
    You should have 3-day supply of water and food per person. Infants and young children need some special supplies 
    Build a Kit
    Special items for an emergency kit (infants & young children)
    Maintaining your kit

  4. Disaster Plan for Children
    Disaster planning with children from Sesame Street 

    Get children involved in creating a family plan

  5. People with Access or Functional Needs
    If you or a family member has access or functional needs you will need to consider how these needs will be met before, during and after a disaster. How will people with hearing problems be made aware of an impending disaster? Remember if the power goes out and you have a battery powered wheelchair there may not be any way to charge the battery. Make sure to plan for this scenario. 
    10 Considerations for Someone with Special Needs
    Individuals with Access or Functional Needs

  6. Family Pets
    Many families have a pet and will need to plan on what to do with their pet in the event of a disaster. Make sure to have supplies for the family pet included in your emergency kit. For resources on how to protect your pets click here.

  7. Get Involved with Your Community
    In the face of disaster, the majority of our citizens come together with courage, compassion and unity, ask, "How can I help?" When major disasters hit the US or Canada you can often get involved with World Renew Disaster Response Services and/or the American Red Cross / Canadian Red Cross.  Also, check with your pastor or church outreach coordinator for local opportunities. 

    For more information in the US, go to Get Involved

 

After Your Family Disaster Plan is Complete

You have diligently worked to safeguard your family and property in the event of a disaster, now what do you do? Share your plan with neighbors, friends and family. If there is a disaster it is helpful if more people know what your plan of recovery is. As a family, encourage others to be prepared and create a plan as well. Practice your plan and make adjustments as necessary.