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Seasonal safety

02 December 2016

We are planning our events for the Christmas season, and, besides everything else, we have to look at safety. Do you have any pointers
for us?


EVERY church has responsibility for the safety and security of the church and those who use it. Many issues are general and all-year, from un­­even floors and steps to keeping access clear and electrical safety. But Christmas has issues all of its own.

For those with large Christmas events, from Christmas markets to Christmas-tree festivals, double-check your money management. Where plenty of strangers are com­ing and going, cash tins are more vul­nerable. Ensure that those taking in money for entrance or for sale of goods can maintain a small float at their table, and that paper money, for example, is collected every half-hour or so and put in the safe. This means that someone who wants to snatch the cash will get very little, and the stallholder will not be tempted to try to stop a thief and get injured in the process.

Check if you have a first-aider among your helpers. It may not be a legal requirement, but could be re-­assuring. You might check whether St John’s Ambulance volunteers are available to assist at really large events, if neces­sary.

Candles and cables. My local church has an event with more than 80 Christmas trees each year, decor­ated by local families and busi­nesses. Every tree has access to plug-in points for tree lights. Check your fuse box and circuits can cope with the quantity being used; check that any extension leads will not be over­loaded; and check that cable runs are out of the way of visitors, prefer­ably behind the trees or, if they have to cross aisles (the cables that is, make sure that suitable cable covers are used.

Lots of things can catch fire — from the cables if wrongly used, but also from candles. It is best to allow no candles anywhere near trees and Christmas decorations. Tinsel, plas­tic, and artificial trees produce acrid and damag­ing smoke when they burn. If you are handing out Christingles with lighted candles, make sure that children are properly protected by a parent or carer, and that there is no crowding or pushing.

A busy season may need extra reminders to those who close up and lock up at the end of the day. A walk around to ensure all candles are extinguished and all electrical sockets are turned off or unplugged may be wiser than a quick glance from near the door.

Of course, I am assuming that all your fire extinguishers are fully ser­viced and that you have trained all your sidespeople to use them. For example, electrical fires require dif­ferent treatment from fires caused by candles. Getting a crowd safely out of the building and away from danger should be rehearsed.

But a Christmas season well pre­pared with the work shared out among a larger group can be fun for everyone, as well as uplifting.

Send your issues and questions to maggiedurran@virginmedia.com.

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