Many people think of a faith-based organization as a safe area where violence and emergencies cannot affect them. Violence in faith-based organizations is not a new phenomenon. In addition to violent acts; faith-based organizations are affected by fires, tornadoes, floods and other hazards. With many incidents occurring with little to no warning, many faith-based organizations are developing and updating plans and procedures to ensure the safety and security of their congregations, staff and facilities.
FEMA provides a planning tool, Guide for Developing High Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship, for faith-based organizations to use as they begin preparing for emergencies. For planning to be effective, all hazards and emergencies should be considered. Leadership should discuss the planning process with their members to allow for membership engagement and involvement.
Plan to Stay in Operation
- Establish a leadership planning team and collect important contact information
- Include local emergency management officials and community partners
- Identify the hazards that could impact your faith-based organization
- Involve members in the planning process
- Consider survival supplies such as food and water
- Be aware of individuals with functional and access needs, as well as elderly who may need assistance during an evacuation
- Clearly mark exits and evacuation routes
- Be aware of fire safety and preparedness (fire extinguishers and smoke detectors)
- Practice plans, drills and exercise to identify areas needing improvement
- Communicate information in advance to avoid confusion and concern
- Exercise under different and non-ideal conditions (e.g., time of day, weather)
Protect and Preserve Your Organization
- Discuss how the plan and procedures will be modified, if needed, and specify who has the responsibility for modifying the plan
- Meet regularly as a leadership team to evaluate plans and discuss current issues.
- Conduct First Aid / AED and CPR trainings
- Review and update insurance policies
- Prepare for utility disruptions and outages, and plan for alternate sources
- Protect your facilities and buildings
- Protect important data and technological infrastructure