At Christmas time there’s often a lot happening and it could be easy for security to become a bit lax. In light of that we’ve put together some security tips for this celebratory and special time of year.
1. Christmas events
Events such as Christmas Carols can often attract quite a crowd. Here are a few tips to help keep everyone as safe as possible.
The humble candle might appear quite harmless but in fact emergency authorities report having to regularly attend house fires started by candles every year. If you intend offering candles at your carol night, make sure to provide non-flammable holders to go with them.
However, a much safer option is to offer flame free alternatives – such as battery-operated candle lights, or handheld LEDs or glowsticks.
Christmas tree safety:
Most people love a Christmas tree, but they can tip over and cause accidents. If you do put up a tree make sure it is stable, fire-resistant and does not cause any obstruction, and that the lights are safe to use.
Crowd control and security:
Security should be a permanent feature of your church all year round, but extra vigilance might be required for Christmas events. Tips include:
- Prior to events, make sure to secure all valuables and cash.
- Provide volunteers with specific roles and ensure they are properly trained in them. This includes security, health & safety, manning of entry points and directing of attendees both outside and inside the building.
- Put up temporary barriers if appropriate.
- Make sure all volunteers have a clear role and are visible to the crowd – such as with an ID tag and reflective clothing.
Use of live animals?:
While using live animals for nativity scenes and plays might make it all seem more authentic, this practice is fraught with risk and isn’t recommended. If you are however considering using live animals make sure to first discuss it with your insurer.
It’s important to be mindful of copyright requirements for your church’s music. Traditional carols are generally fine as they are in the public domain, but other songs you want to use may not be. See APRA-AMCOS for more information.
Insurance and permits:
Lastly, make sure your public liability insurance is up to date! And if you intend holding events away from your premises, please let your insurance provider know in advance. You should also ensure you have the appropriate permits from your council.
2. Security tips over the holiday period
Good security applies year round, but especially over the Christmas period when many churches are closed for the holidays.
Improving your security entails making sure the property is as unattractive to burglars as possible. Burglars tend to look for easy targets where they can get in and out as fast as possible without detection. The same applies to other unwanted intruders such as vandals and arsonists. So, the more security measures you can put in place the better!
Here are a few tips.
- Secure all valuables – remove as many valuables (e.g. cash, laptops, iPads, musical instruments and so on) as possible from the premises. If any items are kept on the premises, make sure they are not visible to the outside – such as by drawing curtains or blinds or by locking them up inside the building.
- Lock up the building – make it as hard as possible for people to enter the building through secure locks on all external doors and windows. Also consider an intruder alarm system.
Outside / grounds:
- Secure equipment – lock away any outdoor equipment in a secure shed or other outbuilding, remove vehicles or park them in a garage, and lock up your wheelie bins (they have been known to attract arsonists!).
- Improve your external security – external lighting, surveillance cameras and removal of hiding spots (e.g. overgrown shrubbery) can all help reduce the risk of attacks.
- Keep up the maintenance – a property that looks unkempt and neglected is more likely to attract burglars and vandals. So make sure to keep it looking well-maintained – especially if you’ve been burgled before.
- Consider ‘natural surveillance’ – such as by asking neighbours to keep an eye on the property during the holiday and to report any suspicious activities.
Keep track of your contents
Another thing to consider is taking stock of all your contents and keeping a documented inventory. This enables you to keep track of missing items and can also help when reporting burglaries to the police and when making an insurance claim. Faith Insurance has a form on the website for this under Members/Forms (scroll down to find it).
Feel free to also check out our other posts on security for churches.
Merry Christmas for 2019 from everyone at Faith Insurance!Tags: church event safety, fire, risk management, security