Now that we’ve moved the clocks forward, spring is officially just around the corner. While we love seeing more daylight and the warmer weather, it comes with the need for additional safety precautions.
As the weather warms, we tend to migrate outdoors. That means children on the lawn, playground, and even in the parking lot. Encourage your ministry teams to be aware of heightened activity and on the watch for potential hazards. This includes things like rocks or gravel that could cause tripping; unsafe playground equipment; and uneven sidewalks. Fix areas that need repair before outdoor activities increase.
The warmer weather may inspire us to start leaving back doors open for circulation or the windows of vehicles rolled down. Both of these habits can “open the door” for unmonitored access to your building or potential car theft. It can also allow children (or other vulnerable people in your congregation) to slip out unnoticed and unsupervised. If you do leave a door open, be sure you have an extra set of eyes to watch for possible problems. Encourage staff and church members to roll up their car windows and lock their doors in the parking lot, even as the weather heats up.
We love having visitors at our spring activities and special events. At the same time there will be unfamiliar faces and “strangers” that have access to the building and children. Consider having an undercover security team present to keep watch over those who attend. If you have new volunteers helping this spring, be sure to complete background checks on each one before they are allowed to work with children. Always err on the side of caution when it comes to protecting your ministry and the children you serve.
It’s a sad fact, but according to Tracy Siska, executive director at the Chicago Justice Project, there is a correlation between warmer weather and crime. “Violence increases, especially street violence, muggings, assaults, battery,” Siska says. “Across the board most crimes increase.”
We don’t have to hide inside as the weather warms up, but we do need to continue practicing caution and using wisdom. Have a safe and happy spring.
– – Taken from a recent Shepherd’s Watch newsletter. Sign up today for Shepherd’s Watch Background Checks and receive your free monthly newsletter filled with advice and tips on keeping your church safe.
(We love to provide tips to keep your ministry safe. You may also want to consult your local legal advisors to get their perspective on this topic!)