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The recent attacks against churches in Nashville and in Texas have led many church leaders to evaluate their levels of preparedness in emergency situations.  Church security has gained more interest due to the work of evil people committing evil acts.

Effective way-finding can be a useful supporting tool for churches in emergency situations.  That usefulness can be seen in two specific ways.

Fire Evacuation

Visiting a new and unfamiliar church is generally a stressful event for just about anybody.  Even when a church has hung emergency evacuation maps in strategic locations, most visitors are too concerned with finding a good place to sit or locating the restrooms to bother to consult a map that they will likely never use.  Even long-time members can pass a map for years on end and never take a moment to stop and familiarize themselves with the path of egress from their normal locations.

Staff members, however, are almost always on hand in some capacity when a church is being used.  Staff members should be very familiar with the exit paths from every location in the church they serve.  When an emergency arises, they can then lead or direct visitors and members in how to exit a building that may be on fire or suffering from some manner of structural emergency.

First Responders

Emergency personnel are generally not familiar with a given church structure.  Should they be called to an emergency event, a clear and effective map can prove invaluable to their operations.  A church map provided to a local police or fire department can be a life saver.  As a rule, fire jurisdictions do not have statutes that address emergency evacuation maps.  They don’t require them at all in most cases, nor do they mention required sizes, placement, or numbers.  There simply are no rules to go by.

An insurance carrier for your church, however, will be greatly pleased to find such maps sprinkled throughout a church campus.  They may be so pleased as to offer a slight discount on premiums to reward the effort.  Anything that may mitigate a loss is welcome and emergency evacuation maps certainly fit the bill.

Conclusion

Visitors and new members will not likely be using the emergency maps hung throughout your church facility, but the church staff should be using them and becoming familiar with every exit path from every location within the church.  They are the ones people will turn to should an emergency occur.

Police and fire departments will be very grateful when a thumb drive containing a map and emergency exits from your facilities is presented to them.  It is a very strong tool that they can use to advantage should they be called to your church in the midst of a crisis.  By that time, it’s too late to plan.

In His service,

Michael Sawyer

January 4, 2018

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