Spending time at a fire station got me thinking about fire safety and children’s ministry. Do we talk with our kids about fire safety at church? Do they know what to do in the event of an emergency during Sunday School? It is really important that they know the answers to these questions. So, let’s talk fire safety in children’s ministry!
1. Plot emergency exit routes for every room in your church building.
Figure out the quickest way out of the building from every room in your church. Create a poster that highlights that route and put it on the wall close to the door of every room.
2. Create and communicate an emergency exit plan.
Once you know the quickest ways out of the church building, create an emergency exit plan. This should be a simple step by step plan for getting everyone out of the building quickly and safely. It should include who is responsible for who, who should be the last out of the building, what teachers should bring with them, etc. Make this emergency exit plan into a poster and post in every room beside the emergency exit route poster.
“In the event of a fire or other emergency, please exit the building quickly and safely. Follow the exit route posted by the door. Teachers, bring your attendance records to the meeting place. Once gathered, call attendance and make sure all of your students are safely out of the building. Once outside, do not re-enter the building. Our meeting place is…”
Next, communicate the emergency exit plan. There are 4 important groups of people you need to communicate the emergency exit plan to:
Your kids: It is really important to talk with your kids about what to do in the event of an emergency. Gather them as a whole group and talk about your emergency exit plan. Show them the posters on the wall. Talk about exiting quickly and safely; where the meeting place is; when they can see their parents; when they are allowed to go back inside the church.
The parents: If you can gather the parents for a meeting, that would be great. If you can’t, send home a letter outlining the important information. Let them know what you have told the children about fire safety. Also, make sure they understand that in the event of a fire they are not to collect their children from their classrooms, rather they are to meet their children at the meeting place. It is really important that parents understand the teachers will get the children out safely. This is especially important to communicate to those parents who have babies in the nursery. The instinct will be to find their child, but for everyone’s safety, they need to exit the building and collect their children at the meeting place.
Your volunteers: Have a meeting with your volunteers at the church building. Show them the fire safety posters in the classrooms. Make sure they understand their responsibilities in the event of a fire. Also, make sure your volunteers are aware of all exits from the building in case their quickest route is unusable.
The congregation: Everyone needs to know what to do in the event of a fire or emergency, so inform the congregation of the emergency exit plan, the location of the meeting place, and the make sure they know where the emergency exit posters are located.
Plan and implement 2 fire drills every year with the entire congregation. It may not be necessary to have everyone actually exit the building, but it’s a good idea. On fire drill days, let everyone know that you are having a practice.
For those in children’s ministry, practice a full drill. Have all classes meet at the meeting place; have all teachers bring their attendance records. If you can use the alarm, do it. Warn the kids ahead of time as some children may be frightened by the loud noise.
Take some time this week to work on your emergency exit plan and talk with your pastor about organizing a fire drill and/or fire safety day one Sunday soon!