Protecting Yourself in a Place of Worship
No matter where you worship, safety should be your first priority. As violence increases throughout the United States, soft targets such as schools, businesses, and places of worship need to take the proper precautions.
What’s the Danger?
According to data collected by the FBI, active shooter incidents have been steadily rising in America since 2000. In 2000, there was only one report of a mass shooter, while the current number reports around 20 mass shootings per year. The FBI defines a mass shooting as an event where four or more people are shot without a significant amount of time in between. More often than not, the number is much higher than four.
While places of worship are not targeted as often as places of business and education, they are still certainly a target. At least 69 people were killed in church shootings during 2019. With the number of murders being committed and innocent individuals being wounded, it is extremely important that every church develops a safety plan for handling an intruder situation.
5 Ways to Protect Congregants
If you are in a role of authority, you can employ these five safety tips in your place of worship.
1. Install video surveillance.
Every business, school, and church should maintain a video system that can be monitored live or later. Not only does this help you keep eyes on the entire building during gatherings, it provides plenty of accountability for everyone in leadership.
2. Lock doors after services begin.
As a general rule of thumb, you should lock entrances five minutes after a church service begins and unlock them when the service ends. This prevents strangers from entering the building without anybody’s knowledge.
3. Keep a designated security team near entrances.
Since congregants often run late, you should post security personnel at the doors to screen visitors before allowing them in. Your security team does not necessarily need to be made up of professionals, but make sure they are familiar with the building layout and know what to do in an emergency situation. If possible, it is helpful to have a police officer on call during operating hours.
4. Discuss emergency procedures with the congregation.
The people within the place of worship also need to know how to respond to emergency situations. Once or twice a year, conduct a meeting for the purpose of going over emergency procedures. Explain where to go, what to do, who to respond to, etc.
5. Implement lockdown drills.
Warn the members ahead of time so as not to cause unnecessary fear, but lockdown drills are a great way to practice emergency response in a place of worship. Make sure everyone responds correctly and goes to the proper place.
The Importance of Developing a Lockdown Procedure
A proper lockdown procedure can literally save lives. It takes some time to work out a plan, but it will be worth it in the event that it is needed.
A safe and well-equipped place of worship will seek out any service or procedure that ensures the safety and security of members. Along with implementing safety precautions for the congregants, a place of worship may choose to install a lockout system such as the SmartBoot Lockdown System by LockOut USA.
The SmartBoot offers an audio and visual connection between church leaders and first responders even while the building is in lockdown. It is a simple mechanism that will trigger a lockdown of the entire facility, alert police and school security, and give everyone peace of mind. The SmartBoot is an excellent option for those who deem school security as a priority.
If you have any further questions regarding school lockdowns or the LockOut SmartBoot System, do not hesitate to call us today. Your safety is our priority.