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Monthly News - Spring 2019

Protect Your Church From Severe Weather Conditions

Severe weather goes hand in hand with spring and summer. Lightning, strong winds, flash flooding, hail, or tornadoes could quickly strike your ministry. Take steps now to plan for how your ministry will protect the people or property in your care.​

Plan for Safety Before Severe Weather Season Hits​

When severe weather approaches, people may need to take shelter. Reduce the confusion or panic that could ensue by creating, communicating, and practicing a plan in advance. As you develop a plan, consider how you would get people to shelter, monitor weather updates, coordinate your staff and volunteers, prevent fires from a lightning strike, provide shelter to community storm victims.

Watch vs. Warning

Find out if your area has a weather alert siren—your community may call it a civil defense siren—to warn of approaching storms. Contact local emergency professionals and ask whether the siren will signal for a tornado watch or just a tornado warning. Most municipalities perform regular testing. Learn when tests are conducted to ensure you are in range to hear the siren.It’s important to understand the differences between various weather advisories. The National Weather Service can issue the following alerts:

Severe Thunderstorm Watch 

Issued when severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area. It does not mean that they will occur.

Tornado Watch

Given when conditions are ideal for a tornado to form. This is the time to start preparing supplies and know where you can take shelter in case a warning is given.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning

Issued when thunderstorms with high winds, hail, or both are occurring or imminent

Tornado Warning

Tornado has been sighted or touched down, and you should seek shelter immediately. A warning may be issued only a minute or two before the storm arrives, so it is important to make your safety preparations once a watch has been issued.

Tornadoes: Be Prepared In Every Season

When tornado sirens wail, a good response plan can help keep your people safe. Lifesaving actions start with recognizing severe weather conditions, developing a plan for your ministry’s employees and visitors, and being ready to act when a storm hits.

Recognize the Signs

According to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, look for these signs of a tornado:

  • Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
  • Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base. Some tornadoes have no visible funnel.
  • Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift.
  • Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
Be aware: many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen. If you suspect that a storm is brewing, listen to a weather radio programmed for your area, or check local television and radio broadcasts for the latest updates.


Be Ready, Year Round

While certain areas of the United States experience a defined tornado season, the National Weather Service cautions that aggressive storms can strike at any time of day, any day of the year, all over the country. To protect those on your property during a storm, consider forming a tornado response plan. Your plan should include:

  • A battery-powered weather radio. You can program the radio to receive alerts for the county you reside in.
  • Weather notifications on your cell phone. Most wireless carriers offer notifications that display severe weather alerts. On most phones, you can enable the feature from your Settings menu—search how-to tips online for your brand of phone. You also can download a free app from the National Weather Service.
  • A method to warn staff. Text alerts, an intercom system, or two-way radios can quickly alert staff to implement your ministry’s severe weather procedures.
  • A shelter route. Ministry leadership or your ministry’s safety team should know how to direct people to safety as soon as an evacuation is needed. Pick a place with no windows or outward-facing doors if possible. Schedule regular practice drills.
  • Accessible supplies. Keep extra medical supplies, food, and bottled water handy and ready to bring into your shelter during a storm. Also set aside extra batteries for radios and flashlights.
  • A property inventory. Keep a detailed, accurate inventory of your property, documents, and belongings in case of damage or looting. Use this sample checklist as a guide to get started.

Monthly News - December 2018

Christmas Decor and Safety

 Decorate Carefully For Christmas - Celebrate the holidays without creating a fire hazard

Churches seldom look more beautiful than when they're decorated for the holidays. Candles, lights, and greenery add splendor to the celebration of Christ's birth. These decorations can have a downside—faulty lights or unattended candles can quickly set a church on fire. Consider the following safety tips for holiday decorations to reduce the risk of fire:

Choosing a Tree

• Buy a freshly cut tree. Needles should feel soft and springy and shouldn't fall off.

• Treat the tree with a flame retardant approved by your state fire marshal.

• Cut one inch off the bottom of the trunk and place the tree in a sturdy, large-capacity stand with plenty of water.

• Keep the tree moist. Dry evergreens can ignite quickly if they're exposed to heat, electrical sparks, or open flames.

• Display your tree no longer than 14 days.

• Verify that artificial trees are made of flame-resistant materials.

Beware of Candles

• Use candles carefully and sparingly.

• Keep candles at least a tree's height away from any Christmas tree.

• Extinguish all candles when leaving the sanctuary.

• Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials.

• Use sturdy candle holders that aren't likely to tip over.

• Never use candles to decorate a Christmas tree.

• Use flameless, LED candles wherever possible.

Inspect Lights

• Use tree lights and holiday lighting approved and labeled by a nationally recognized testing company.

• Check all electrical decorations for fraying or exposed wires. If defects are found, cut off the plug and discard the decoration.

• Turn off all holiday lighting when the building is vacant.

• Never use staples or nails to secure the wiring of outdoor lights.

• Don't link more than three light strands together, unless package directions indicate it's safe.

• Be careful not to overload outlets and extension cords.