Holiday Service Safety Considerations

// Lindsay Taylor on Friday December 15, 2017

Christmas services are among the highest-attended services of the year, presenting an exciting opportunity to celebrate and worship with a larger audience. With the increased number of services and attendees, you’ll want to make safety a top priority. Here are some pointers to help you plan for your large gathering.

Review your safety plan. Take a moment to revisit the safety plan you have established for your church. Review all procedures with your staff and volunteers to make sure that they know how to respond in the event of an emergency.

Determine logistics. With so many people in attendance, it's especially important to make sure that you have a game plan for the day – and that this plan is clearly communicated to staff and volunteers. Here are some details to consider:

  • Will you allow people to roam the facility or will you close off certain parts (e.g., church offices, classrooms, the gym or cafeteria)?
  • What time will the services start?
  • When will you start letting people in?
  • Which doors will you allow people to enter through?
  • Do you have enough seating and supplies (bulletins, candles, etc.) available?

Tip – It’s a good idea to have extra greeters and ushers available to assist people, since more nonmembers and out-of-town guests will be in attendance and may need more guidance and assistance.

Know your maximum occupancy. Going over this number can make for a squished, uncomfortable service – and create a safety risk in the event of an emergency.

Tip – Consider setting up overflow seating in a gym or fellowship hall with live video feeds of the services on TVs or projectors. This will allow more people to attend your service without it creating a safety risk.

Avoid slips and falls. There’s something special about a white Christmas, but you’ll want to be extra careful to limit slippery surfaces. Clear walking surfaces of snow and ice, and increase traction indoors by placing sturdy mats and runners at entrances.

Decorate with care.  Make sure that trees, manger scenes and other decorations do not block means of egress.

Step up security. Increased attendance also increases the potential threat of crime and violence, so make sure appropriate security measures are in place. Check out our post 4 Ways to Step Up Security at Holiday Events for ideas on how to do that.

Safely bask in the glow. The tips in this post will help ensure your candlelight service remains peaceful, not perilous.

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Lindsay Taylor

Lindsay Taylor

Lindsay Taylor is a Marketing Coordinator for GuideOne Insurance, focusing on marketing communications and the co-op program.

In her free time, she enjoys dancing, running and spending time with friends and family.

Planning a Safe Valentine's Event

// Alexa Guessford on Thursday February 11, 2016

With Valentine’s Day just days away and love beginning to fill the air, events filled with x’s and o’s are all around us. Feb. 14 is a day to show your loved ones how much they truly mean to you, and what greater way to celebrate the day than with a Valentine’s event. However, with each holiday celebration, there are associated risks to consider. To ensure your festivity doesn’t turn into the disaster of the century, follow the safety tips and tricks below.

Decorations

Valentine’s Day naturally calls for paper hearts and candlelight, but the two don’t mix. Red and pink heart-shaped things should fill the room; however, open flames of any kind should not. In order to set the romantic vibe without the risk of burning the building down, try using flameless and LED candles. These come in a variety of shapes, scents and sizes, and are great for these types of events.

Food

Preparation

Whether you’re preparing for a potluck or individual party favors, serving food to a group of people can be stressful.

  • Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling any type of food.
  • All cooking utensils and surfaces should be cleaned with hot, soapy water before and in between using each food item.
  • Separate all raw, cooked and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing, storing and serving. This helps to eliminate the transfer of bacteria.

Serving

  • When serving, hot foods should be kept at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above, and cold foods at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  • Disposable gloves should be used when handling ready-to-eat food without utensils.

Storing

  • Food should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours (one hour if over 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside).
  • Hot foods should be refrigerated within two hours after cooking.

Allergies

With food allergies more prevalent than ever, it’s important to plan for and have options for people that cannot eat certain foods. Allergies and diets to consider include peanuts, tree nuts, milk (or dairy), eggs, wheat (gluten) and soy. As long as you have at least one option for each of the dietary needs, you’ll be good to go.

Activities

Whether you’re planning for two or an entire group, your Valentine’s activity should be suited for the ages of those involved. When considering a craft, stay away from those that may require hot glue guns, scissors (young children) and knives. You can search various activities and games that are age and size-of-group appropriate, and most importantly fun.

By taking safety precautions along the way, you will lessen your risk of an emergency situation. Happy Valentine’s Day!

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Alexa Guessford

Alexa Guessford

Alexa Guessford is the Corporate Communications Coordinator for GuideOne Insurance, mainly responsible for internal communications and special events.

In her spare time, Alexa enjoys working out, spending time with her family and watching Friends.

VBS on a Budget

// Ellen Wade on Thursday June 4, 2015

Vacation Bible School is an important outreach program for many churches.  It not only keeps members connected during the summer months, but it’s a good way to reach out to others who may not regularly attend church.

VBS is an easy way for those who occasionally visit to learn more about your church’s values and beliefs in a less intimidating environment.  It’s hard to get nervous over a glass of milk and cookies!  And, it’s not just bringing kids into the church.  Adults that don’t regularly volunteer may help out, or parents of children may come watch the VBS wrap-up program and find they enjoy the experience.

Growing up, VBS was an important part of my summer.  My sister and I attended regardless of what other activities we had going on.  I have several vivid memories of playing Red Rover in my fresh-from-a-game Little League uniform, and sharing my coveted after-softball Fun Dip with those in my class.  My mom was the organizer of the program for our church for several years, and it was a major time commitment for her, and an investment for our small town church.  

So, while VBS is important to the church and the community it supports, funding it can be arduous.  If you are a small church, or just "tightening your belt," putting together a fun and inspiring event can seem like a daunting task.  Thankfully, there are some actions you can take to help minimize your budget without minimizing the fun.

  1. Ask for donations.  Ask members to help supply your VBS event needs.  Once you have your theme and activities planned, make a list of items, and place a call out to the congregation to help fulfill those needs.  You may be surprised at how many are willing to drop off a box of cookies, a few craft supplies or even donate their time.  Be specific in your request so you receive exactly what is necessary to help your event go off without a hitch.
  2. Pair up. If it makes sense, pool your resources with another church in the community and host a joint VBS event.  This will help ease the financial burden for both organizations, and may be the beginning of a fruitful relationship.
  3. Reuse VBS themes.  There are a lot of great VBS themes and packages on the market, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily need to purchase a brand new one each year.  Kids change classes, lessons go unused, and 365 days pass between one VBS to the next.  The material is still relevant, and can be made new again by changes in crafts, schedule and new activities.
  4. Be creative. Use this age of Pinterest and other online idea resources to your advantage.  Google is your friend!  Look for crafts relevant to your teachings that will be relatively inexpensive to recreate.  Spend a little time being crafty, or enlist those who are, to help save some money.  Also, be sure to ask for the items you need to complete these crafts when you’re putting out your call for donations.  This will make the crafts even less expensive.

In the end, VBS is not about how much money you spend or how elaborate your week is.  It should be about the lives you reach and the lasting impression that leaves.  For more ideas on how to cut expenses this VBS season, check out our Pinterest page

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Ellen Wade

Ellen Wade

Ellen Wade is a Marketing Specialist for GuideOne Insurance, focusing on content marketing and social media.

In her free time, she enjoys running, biking, reading and exploring new cities.