Fire, Wind, & Rain: Avoiding Tragedy
This time of year always reminds me of that James Taylor song about the fire and the rain … I guarantee one or both of those things will threaten, or even damage, some of our ministry campuses this year.
Last week a bunch of rain hit California and this past summer we saw fire almost everywhere in our great state.
Fire is a big problem in California due to our drought and drier conditions; and when combined with other natural forces like the Santa Ana winds, October and November can be big fire months.
October through February ushers in the cold and rain for parts of the Central Valley and Northern California. That means potential for roof leaks, flooding, and frozen pipes.
Disclaimer: This list is not intended to be a definitive list on fire, wind, and flood prevention and may not include all preventative tactics. Contact your local fire department for fire safety tips for your facility and community, and a licensed and bonded structural engineer to assist with wind damage and flood prevention tips.
What to Do for Rainy Weather Conditions:
- Do you have a licensed and bonded professional regularly inspect your church’s property and roofing for wear and tear? Do they look at the roof, flashing, caulking and sealants to verify they are secured against water intrusion?
- Have you examined gutters, downspouts and drains adjacent to church-building roofing so as to ensure that they will not collect water, ice or snow?
- Do you routinely verify that your church’s outdoor steps and hand railings are in working order and that they have been constructed so as to prevent slips and falls due to rain or ice?
- Do you have a maintenance worker or volunteer to check your buildings for leaks or flooding during wet weather?
What to Do for Freezing or Snowy Weather Conditions:
- Are your church’s outdoor spigots shut off? If your church is in an area that freezes during winter, does your spigot pipeline have inside valves to shut off exterior taps? Do you close them during periods of cold weather?
- Do you detach outdoor hoses from your property’s spigots during cold weather? Are they properly stored to prevent mildew?
- Do you wrap your interior and exterior pipes to insulate against cold-weather conditions?
- Are your walls properly insulated to retain heat?
- Are your doors and windows sealed against drafts?
- Do you have a snow and ice removal plan for all church walkways, parking lots and building entrances?
- Do you have a maintenance worker or volunteer to check your church’s buildings for burst pipes during cold weather?
- Do you have sufficient amounts of rock salt and snow removal supplies? What about anti-freeze for church-owned vehicles?
- Do you have designated contractors and service providers in case of weather-related emergencies? You should have numbers for utility companies, snow removal services and repair contractors. Are they included in a list of emergency phone numbers for instances of flood, freeze or snow?
What to Do for Dry & Windy Conditions:
- Are your trashcans secured for windy conditions?
- Do you secure patio umbrellas, tables, seating, and awnings for windy conditions and storms?
- Secure portable playground equipment from wind.
- Open car doors slowly to prevent wind forcing them into other cars.
- Ensure tree branches are trimmed and make sure trees are inspected for disease.
- Are you ensuring landscape debris piles are in small 4-feet by 4-feet piles?
- Do you clear all flammable debris material and vegetation within 10-feet of the outer edge of any debris burn pile or campfire?
- Is a water supply and shovel always kept close to any debris or campfire burning site?
- Do you have an adult on hand at any debris or campfire burn site?
- Does staff ensure campfires are allowed, and if so, sure to extinguish them completely?
- Are you aware not to use fire unless weather conditions (particularly wind) are such that burning can be considered safe?
- Have you considered current weather conditions when using fire? If it’s windy and the surrounding vegetation is very dry, it may be best to wait and burn landscape debris another day.
- Do you know not to mow or trim dry grass on windy days?
- Does your team know to never pull your vehicle over, or park it, in dry grass?
- Have you warned safety and security teams to target shoot only in approved areas, use lead ammunition only, and never at metal?
- Did you know reporting any suspicious activities can prevent arson?
Answering these questions will keep your ministry better protected during the upcoming fire, winter, and rainy seasons.