Are Your Emergency Evacuation Procedures in Place?

April 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Posted in Religious Institution | Leave a comment

While crowds of people assemble at churches and other houses of worship each week, it is relatively uncommon for churches to think about or practice how they will evacuate their buildings in the event of an emergency.  Given the number of elderly, disabled and children that attend religious services and activities implementing an Evacuation plan is a necessity.

When planning your Emergency Evacuation it is a good idea to involve your local fire officials.  First assess your facility and the means of egress, or escape from the building.  A means of egress should always be the nearest exit.  Remember evacuation paths should never be through high hazard areas, such as kitchens, boiler rooms or mechanical areas.  Make sure all routes to exits are clear of obstructions; that all emergency exit signs are in place and well lit. The emergency lighting units must provide adequate illumination if the power were to go out; appropriate panic hardware should be installed in the doors and signs need to be posted showing the emergency evacuation routes. Elevators should never be used in case of a fire.

It is also very important that you inspect all emergency equipment such as fire alarms, smoke & heat detectors and insure that they are in good working order.  It is also good practice to make sure that appropriate fire extinguishers are in place throughout your facility and are inspected regularly.

Your emergency procedures should include assigning responsibilities to all appropriate staff & volunteers including ushers, pastoral staff, any facility staff, ministry leaders and workers.  Designated responsibilities should be assigned to assist with the elderly, small children and the disabled in exiting the building safely. A safe gathering place outside the building should be established and communicated to all. With regards to the children a plan should be communicated to the parents where to meet up with their children if an evacuation should occur.

Once your procedures have been established, training of both those involved in the evacuation plan and the congregation as a whole should take place. Keeping the congregation aware of the exit routes and the planned evacuation strategies is extremely important.  Those with specific responsibilities should be trained on their duties. Planned emergency evacuation drills should be conducted to avoid any confusion and panic if a true emergency should take place. Having the local fire officials involved may be helpful and will provide insight and feedback on any improvements or changes that may be needed.  The local fire officials are always glad to participate as in the event of an actual emergency the more prepared you are the easier it is to have a safe and successful evacuation. Remember the practice drills should not only be carried out during worship service but during any ongoing activities.

Never take for granted that when an alarm goes off that there is not an emergency.  Many times an alarm may be triggered by candles or incents.  Following procedures will always secure a safe outcome if the alarm is ringing for a true emergency.

A little planning goes a long way.


Breached Data Security – It’s not just for BIG Business!

April 14, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Posted in Business Insurance, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 The emails from vendors telling us that data has been breached and “ONLY” the email addresses, nothing else was compromised seem to arrive daily in the inbox! It’s not a very comforting thought.  And it can’t be a pleasant thought for the vendors either; wondering whether their customers will have any identity fraud issues after a breach.  The stories of breached data security are all too familiar:

  • An employee takes home a company laptop against regulations.
  • A hard drive is sent for repairs, but disappears.
  • A disc with sensitive data is stolen from an office.
  • A hacker breaks into the company network and steals customer information. 

Big businesses are not the only targets of data theft.  Doctor’s offices, retail shops, contractors, sales people and most other professions store personal information electronically.  Information stolen from your business might result in hefty bills to you.  You may be responsible for the following expenses:  informing the victims of the theft, replacing data and income lost during the recovery, repaying the victims for expenses they incurred to recover their lost information, repaying the victims who suffer financial losses resulting from identity theft and so on.  Your personnel may even lose confidence in you and seek employment elsewhere.  Traditional insurance products – such as general liability, property business income and crime insurance – are not designed to cover this type of loss.  A thorough review of your insurance policies and endorsements would be a good first start in protecting your business as well as implementing the following, as a minimum.

  • Install and update daily an anti-virus program on all computing devices.
  • Set the anti-virus program to scan and filter email attachments and downloads before opening any files.
  • Install and configure firewalls.  The use of default settings is not sufficient in most cases.
  • Networks should be configured using multiple firewalls to separate back office operations from devices using the internet.
  • Create and openly discuss a security policy with all employees and contractors.
  • Create and test a disaster recovery plan.
  • Create and test a security breach response plan.
  • Back up your network data daily and store the back-up files in an offsite location.
  • Remote access should be given only to a VPN or equivalent system.
  • Keep your server room locked and limit access to authorized personnel.


This information is intended for educational purposes only.  As always, please feel free to comment on this or any other NSA Group blog post.

 Additional information may be found at:       ** Information from CNA (a partner company of the NSA Group) was used for this blog.

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