Church Emergency Plan Template

In the early 1980's I visited Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) throughout the United States. The best ones were in Texas (they face the most and greatest threats and therefore have to rise to the event) and Utah (the Mormons are survivalists as part of their religion and due to their history ). Otherwise, most Americans were (and are) unprepared for an emergency, a state of affairs still true today. And one of the most unprepared is churches.
In hopes of changing that, here is a template I wrote that you and your church can use to prepare for emergencies. Over a thousand people downloaded this on Knol before that site was taken down, so it must offer something you can use. I wrote it in an afternoon for my church (St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Poplar Springs, MD) and many parishioners found it useful

In response to your request for beginning a safety and emergency preparedness plan for the church, here are a few ideas. I tried to provide what is useful, practical, and mostly free. This is a process that will take some time. It is an all threats approach (jihad's, hurricanes, fire, shooting). Hope this is a good beginning.

Personal, Fire and Security Awareness

Take a comprehensive approach to address personal, fire and security situations. Emphasize what is unique about each, but that common strategies for handling them exist. You will need to develop this plan. It should include:
  • Fire – what to do and how to do it
  • What to do if a distraught parent shows up (custody battle where, usually, the father is going to kidnap the child)
  • Sexual predators – how to identify them, how to keep them away
  • Angry Parishioner out of control
  • Mentally unbalanced individual
  • Criminal entering the building – obvious and not so obvious
  • Weather emergency
  • Natural Disaster


Cell Phone Broadcast Message – Before an event, create a list of the cell phone numbers of all parents. Use this list to do a broadcast email or text message if weather or an emergency warrants it.
Teacher to Teacher – Have teachers in exchange their phone number with the teacher closest to them when they teach.
Staff to Staff – Have staff members exchange their cell phone number with the staff member that is closest to them.
ICE – In Case of Emergency –ICE, is a program that enables first responders, such as paramedics, firefighters, and police officers, to identify victims and contact their next of kin to obtain important medical information. Have staff dial in their emergency contact numbers on their cell phones.
Telephone Contact List – Get cell, home, work numbers and email addresses of all staff and volunteers. Create a one page table with name, cell, home, work number and email. Distribute list to all on it, Father Mike, and other relevant parties.
Emergency Contact List – In addition to 911, add emergency fire, ambulance, and police full numbers to a list for Carroll, Frederick, Howard and Montgomery Counties. One problem when you dial 911 in this area is that you spend valuable time explain what county you are calling from. Then, you get transferred and transferred again. This list will avoid that problem as well as giving the precise number and service to call.

First Aid

Teach Staff, Volunteers, and Coaches First Aid – Have a nurse volunteer teach them, or have the Red Cross teach them during the blood drive.
Distribute Basic First Aid Kits – Place larger first aid kits in the large rooms (church, gym, cafeteria, and library) and smaller first aid kits in each classroom.
Defibrillators – Purchase at least one and place it outside in the vestibule where it can be reached from all areas.


Sign up staff for the Emergency Email and Wireless Network. Get notified of an emergency by email, cell and pager. Most emergency notifications will be about the weather, but this system will also notify staff of national and regional emergencies.

Volunteer Mobilization Center
This is a structure for how to identify, brief and use effective
volunteers (skilled construction workers, nurses, doctors) and how
to send away ineffective volunteers (those with no skills).

Emergency Supply Kits

Purchase and distribute a basic emergency supply kits. Many kits are available online. Here is one good source:  http://www.tacda.org/store/index.php
The items listed here are just suggestions. You will have to decide what is necessary, practical and useful. I believe that whistles, water, and food are the most basic and are absolutely necessary. The rest are as money permits.

For the larger rooms:

Food and Drinking Water
         Pouches of emergency water
         Packs of high-calorie food rations
Emergency Whistle
         Used to attract attention
         Contains a compass and reflection mirror
         Water-tight compartment
         Provides spot-to-flood light
         Can be set on end
         Anodized for corrosion resistance
         Dependable in emergency situations
Emergency Strobe Light
         Used as a beacon because it is very bright
         Can be spotted through smoke and light debris
Emergency Supply Kit Contents can include:
         Light and sound generating devices
         Inclement weather/exposure protection
         Respiratory protection
         Movement and relocation supplies
         Communication information
         First-aid and life safety supplies
         Food and drinking water
         Emergency egress supplies
         Escape hoods – for fires
Life Safety Supplies
         CPR barrier
         Latex gloves
         Quick reference CPR guide
         Two containers glucose tablets
         First-aid kit and supplies like metal instruments
Latex Gloves

         4 pairs
         Provides protection against body fluids
Emergency Egress Supplies
         Heavy-during gloves
         Safety glasses
         30-foot of bright orange webbing
         Mini radios
         Batters for Blackberries® and portable radios
         Collapsible reading glasses
Movement and Relocation Supplies
         Stored in sealable document storage bags
         Multipurpose tools
         Small roll of duct tape
         Map pack
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Barrier
         Mask serves as a protective barrier when administering mouth-to mouth
         One-way valve and directional diaphragm allows no back flow of air
         Consult quick reference CPR guide
Glucose Tablets
         Glucose tables like candy to provide sugar immediately
         Never put them in the mount of someone in shock

For the smaller rooms:

Food and Drinking Water

         Pouches of emergency water
         Packs of high-calorie food rations
Emergency Whistle
         Used to attract attention
         Contains a compass and reflection mirror
         Water-tight compartment
Emergency Communication Methods
         Non-toxic glow sticks
         Heavy-duty mini-mag light

Continuity of Operations

  • Store vital documents in a fireproof box.
  • Store critical computer data on backup hard drives.
  • Keep backup hard drives at a secure location.
  • Give staff a memory stick. Have them keep their on critical data on that memory stick.
This is a big area. We can discuss further later.

Special Needs – Seniors, the Disabled, and Young Children

Senior and disabled people have special needs, especially in a power failure or disaster. Using common sense, try to plan for and meet their needs. For example, keep backup generators for power failures and diabetic foods ready.

Young children also have special needs. Keep a few stuffed animals, toys and games around to give them to occupy them in an emergency. The immediate threat at my church was a hurricane. I put the following email together and the church secretary sent it to all our parish members.


Here is some information from our parish Emergency Preparedness Expert-

Prepare spiritually and physically. Pray. Pray always, and if you don't, an earthquake and major hurricane within one week should make you begin. Here is how you may prepare physically.

Hurricane Irene is forecast to impact the State of Maryland this weekend. Although there are still uncertainties in the final track of the storm, we urge all residents to begin to prepare now.  Please remember that this is a large and powerful storm and it will not need to pass directly over Carroll County to cause heavy rainfall and high winds. You can receive up to date information on Hurricane Irene directly from the National Hurricane Center at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov and your local National Weather Service office at: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/phi/. Also, see the VueToo and Meteorological Musings (Mike Smith) link below.

Additional information can also be found at.

Please consider the following items as you prepare for Irene.

Make sure your family, friends and other important phone numbers are available.
Know where your family, friends and neighbors are in case you need them or they need you.
Have emergency supplies ready BEFORE the storm.

Check your emergency kit. Learn more about what to keep in your kit at http://www.ready.gov
   Ensure that insurance information is current and stored in a safe location.
   Secure any outdoor items.
   Check and clear rain gutters and drains.
   Check the serviceability of sump pumps if your home has one.
   If you must leave your home, do not cross flooded roadways.
   Ensure that you are registered to receive emergency notifications from the Department of Emergency Services at http://www.ccdes.org

Hurricane Irene updated strike path info
and situation...

MEMA Maryland







Earthquakes: Do not call 911 for information about the earthquake, only to report an emergency.

If you smell gas or suspect a gas leak:
Leave the area immediately and go to a location where you no longer smell gas, and report the leak by calling 911 (If Fire Rescue is not already on the scene).
In any event: Do Not:

   Light matches or smoke. Avoid use of all open flames.
   Try to locate the source of the gas leak.
   Use any electrical device, including cellular phone, I-pods etc.
   Turn light switches On and Off.
   Re-enter the building or return to the area until it has been declared safe to do so by Fire Rescue Personnel

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