Many churches see an increase in attendance for the Christmas holiday. If your congregation plans to celebrate Christmas with a festive holiday service this year, be prepared for the risks that come with increased attendance and seasonal décor. You can minimize the risks of holiday accidents at your church with our Christmas Safety checklist.
“While the type of claims at Christmastime are like those we see most often the rest of the year, we do see an increase in the number of claims as churches are more active,” says Brian Gleason, Senior Risk Manager at GuideOne Insurance. “Our loss leaders are fires (many of them electrical), water damage and slips and falls.”
Keep your holiday service full of joy by learning more about three of the most common losses and how to reduce your risk of experiencing them this Christmas with our Christmas Safety Checklist. Know the risks and review the checklist.
- According to the National Fire Protection Association, 25% of Christmas tree fires begin with a heat source, such as a candle or equipment, too close to the tree. And if your Christmas tree is underwatered, a flashover can happen in less than one minute, causing considerable damage and danger.
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the “fire resistant” label. This label indicates that the tree is less likely to burn and can be extinguished quickly if it catches fire.
Christmas Trees -Prior to decorating your tree,
- Check light strands for cracked cords, frayed ends or burned-out bulbs.
- Select newer, safer strands that have strong connections and built-in fuses.
- Fill the tree stand with water daily to prevent drying out a live tree.
- Keep the tree at minimum three feet away from a heat source.
Decorative & Religious Candles
- Consider using non-flammable holders for candles or a flame-free alternative such as LEDs, glow sticks or battery-operated candle lights.
- Do not leave candles lit in an unattended room.
- Keep candles at least 12 inches away from any material that can burn.
Preventing Water Damage
- Frozen pipes are a leading cause of water damage and property loss during this time of year.
- Review The Cold, Hard Facts About Frozen Pipes, and take steps to prepare your building for winter weather.
- Before leaving for the holidays, be sure to set the thermostat to at least 50 degrees or shut off the water and drain the system when the building will not be in use.
- Consider installing a water leak and freeze detector or perform regular inspections during the time off.
Puddles & Leaks
- When snow and ice melt, water can accumulate inside the building at the entrances from foot traffic.
- Closely monitor these areas for wet conditions and promptly dried if water has collected.
- Be sure mats are in place and replaced if they become waterlogged.
- Conduct inspections for water leaks from appliances, windows, doors, or roofs, which can cause additional safety hazards or property damage.
- Make any necessary repairs as soon as possible.
Preventing Slips and Falls
- Keep extension cords out of walkways and don’t run them under rugs or furniture. “Each year, about 4,000 injuries associated with electric extension cords are treated in hospital emergency rooms,” says the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). “50% of these injuries involve fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains from people tripping over extension cords.”
- Areas that may increase exposure to potential trip or slip hazards:
- Close to the public uneven ground or areas strung with holiday lights.
- When closing an area be sure that you are not redirecting foot traffic to other slip and trip hazards. (For example, re-routing sidewalk traffic that requires a user to step off the curb into a parking lot.)
- Secure any Christmas trees in stable stands and do not obstruct walkways or emergency exits.
- If your church darkens its lighting for presentations, such as Christmas plays or singing events, be sure to provide sufficient lighting for visibility and to prevent slips and falls.
- Remove tripping hazards such as buckled rugs or loose cables or cords from walkways and aisles.
- In stairwells, provide a light switch at the top and the bottom of the stairs whenever possible, or keep the lights on during hours of potential use.
Snow & Ice Removal
- Be proactive about de-icing walkways to entrances by applying products and have snow and ice removal equipment ready to be used when needed.
- Identify walking surfaces that may be susceptible to runoff from roofs, downspouts, and other areas, as ice could develop here.
- Be fully prepared for winter weather by working with staff to establish a snow and ice removal plan.
We thank GuideOne for this information – GuideOne.com
We thank the National Fire Protection Association for this information https://www.nfpa.org/