What Is a Church Emergency Action Plan?

A church emergency action plan is a document that provides all the questions of what, where, when, how, and who in the case of a sudden disaster. The more detailed the plan is, the less valuable time will be lost in the event of a disaster.

This plan provides information about a common gathering place in an emergency. The action plan must take into account a potential lack of communication systems, computer systems, facility space, and churchgoers for a couple of days or weeks after a disaster. This plan requires a representative team from all parts of the church to take over reorganization.

What Should Be the First Response in A Church Emergency?

As the first part of the plan is the first response to an emergency, all of the responsible representatives of various teams must be notified about this part of the plan. This must include things like first aid, basic living necessities, and food and water. These supplies should be enough for one to survive for up to three days. Moreover, this phase also includes responses to media questions and a spokesperson who can represent the church. To implement the plan, a church mobile app or contact list can be adapted to keep communication lines open between different members of the church.

Types of Church Emergencies:

Fire And Smoke Emergencies. If you detect smoke and/or fire:

Gas Leaks

Signs of a natural gas leak include:

Bomb Threat

All bomb threats should be taken seriously, most threats are received by phone. Act quickly, but remain calm and obtain information.


An earthquake is one of nature’s most dangerous event, it occurs suddenly with no warning.




Intruder/Active Shooter Plans

When a hostile person is actively causing deadly harm or the forthcoming threat of deadly harm or is barricaded within a church, the following procedures should be followed:

If for some reason you are caught in an open area, such as a hallway or main congregation area, you must decide what action to take. You can try to hide, but make sure it is a well-hidden space or you may be found as the intruder moves through the church looking for victims or anyone to hostage.

If you think you can safely make it out of the building by running, then do so. If you decide to run, do not run in a straight line. Hide behind any objects or walls like doing hide and seek, except that your life is at risk. Use trees, vehicles or any other object to block you from view as you run. When away from the immediate area of danger, summon help any way you can and warn others.

If the person is causing death or serious physical injury to others and you are unable to run or hide, you may choose to play dead if other victims are around you.

The last option you have, if caught in an open area, may be to fight back. This is dangerous, but this could be an option depending on your situation.

If you are caught by the intruder and are not going to fight back, follow their directions and do not look the intruder in the eyes.

How To Create a Church Emergency Action Plan?

The emergency notification plan and preparedness manual should be introduced to staff and volunteers of the church before a disaster comes. This manual should have a couple of essential points to it.

Steps for action in a case of a disaster should identify how the organization will gather, where it will gather, and how an evacuation will proceed.

Contact information to be used in case of an emergency should be provided—this information contains who should be contacted in the case of an unexpected event as well as phone numbers of the employees, volunteers, and congregants of the church. Information systems should be backed up ahead of time and kept in a separate, safe place.

Include a detailed diagram and labeling of the building layout. Building outlines are helpful in a situation when the building needs to be evacuated quickly.

A first aid box should be kept in a safe and secure place away from the church building. It should include all the necessary things that will be needed in case something happens to the church building. This box can contain the emergency preparedness manual, contact information of all employees, backup files of data, copies of church documents, computer software copies, and basic supplies such as paper, tape, and pens.

5 steps in a church emergency:

Be calm. No matter what happens, panic is never useful. As a church leader, you cannot control how others behave in an emergency, but you are responsible for staying calm yourself and reestablishing order when chaos arises.Trust your instincts. You know your church; you know your congregation. If something seems off, it probably means something is wrong. Trust your gut. If you see a suspicious package that looks out of place or if someone is behaving strangely, look into it. You are the one who needs to take charge and speak up; do not wait for someone else to make a move. Assign a second-in-command from among your church leadership team to train with you and act as an understudy in emergency situations. You increase your chances of catching an emergency before it becomes a disaster by having a second pair of eyes and ears.Call for help. Don’t be a hero. You are a church leader. You deliver sermons, organize small groups, and deploy volunteers. You do not predict the weather, make arrests, or put out actual fires. There are experts in every community trained for these situations, and the sooner you get them involved, the better. Have a hard-wired phone on-site. Landlines do not rely on a cellular network to call for help, and they have their own dedicated power source through the wiring, making them vital in the event of an extended power outage.Get to safety. Safety could mean moving outside in the case of a fire, or to the church basement in the event of a typhoon. The key is preparation and communicating your plan ahead of time so that if such a situation occurs, you and your congregation know where to go. Post maps blatantly throughout your church, and ensure that exits and hallways are clearly marked. There is a reason we’ve all experienced fire drills, and you should have them at church, too. Remember: people first, stuff later. You can always rebuild your space and replace your things. You can’t replace a person. Stock your church basement with canned food, drinking water, and first aid supplies so that it can be used as a shelter in an extreme weather event.Make use of technology. We live in an extraordinary age of technological advancement. The entire world is connected at all times, and everyone carries emergency response devices in their hands. Tap into that network. Use the member directory in your church management system to keep a reorganized list of all members and establish a protocol under which information can be shared quickly and clearly. In the time of a natural disaster, information can be as valuable as food, first aid, and fresh water.


How do you prepare an emergency plan?

  • Assemble a disaster supply kit.
  • Locate safe places in your home for each type of disaster.
  • Determine the best evacuation routes from your home.
  • Be trained in first aid and CPR.
  • Show each church member how and where to shut off utilities (water, gas, electricity).

What are your responsibilities when responding in emergency situations?

Defining what emergencies may occur and seeing that emergency measures are developed to address each situation. Directing all emergency activities, including evacuation of personnel. Ensuring that outside emergency services are notified when necessary. Directing the shutdown of church operations, when necessary.

How will you assess the emergency?

  • Assess the Situation. The first thing you should do is assess the situation. Look to see who is at the emergency scene, and find out what others at the scene are doing. If anyone is in danger or hurt, you should immediately take charge of the situation. In high stress situations, people tend to panic if they or someone they know has been injured. If you feel you are able to help, take steps to lead and delegate to those around the emergency scene. Lead the people by giving them direct instructions and often they will step up and follow.
  • Get Help. The first step to establishing some sort of leadership is to shout out or signal for help. Keep it simple so they can follow directions easily and so that they can snap out of any shock they may be feeling: and don’t be afraid of raising your voice. Once other bystanders are working on calling the cavalry, you can focus on the tricky task of assessing what can be done until the emergency vehicles get there.
  • Assess the Injured. Perform basic triage and assess the injured people involved in the emergency situation. Look to the most vulnerable individuals first, see if you can help any of the ones with the most immediate medical needs. Preferably, you’d have an EDC bag with a first aid kit on you, or perhaps even a trauma kit in a bug out bag to use. If not, do the best you can with what you have: alcohol in your car or tearing up clothes to use as bandages would be great in these types of situations. Check for loss of consciousness, major bleeds, and asphyxiation, and deal accordingly, again, from the most to least injured. Your goal is never to completely heal victims, but to keep as many of them alive as possible until the physicians arrive. Never forget that.
  • Assess the Environment. Be aware of your surroundings and of your options for making it safe, both for yourself and anyone else in the vicinity. Don’t perform first aid on an injured person right next to a burning vehicle – this seems obvious, but when there’s not much time to think, it’s possible to quickly turn an incident of one casualty to a crisis of many. Be smart and consider all of the various environmental factors involved before rushing into hero-mode.
  • Know Your Limits. In periods of high pressure, it can be tempting to go beyond your knowledge or expertise to try to help, but unless you are 100% sure that you need to do something incredibly risky (like a tracheotomy) do not take the risk in doing it yourself and instead wait for professional assistance. That doesn’t mean you should watch someone suffocate when you think you could’ve helped, but if it is possible to get a person breathing by any other means, take the least risky way, or at least keep the casualty alive until the medical staff arrive and are able to do the tracheotomy themselves.

Any disaster can be natural existences such as floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes, acts of terrorism, or single armed intruders in a church. All of these sudden and unanticipated disasters can come about anywhere, including while in church, and one should be aware of this probability. The safety of the community should also be paramount even though the church has many duties and priorities. This means having a detailed plan in case of a sudden calamity. This plan needs to be prepared in detail so that if an emergency happens, everyone is prepared to act.