What written emergency evacuation plans are available for church preparedness?


Do you have a written evacuation/emergency plan for your church in the case of fire, threat of violence, natural disaster, etc.? Are you willing to share this as a prototype for others to edit for their own use?  We are developing a plan, but with all the variables, it feels overwhelming to try to cover all our basis.  

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Air marshalls randomly attending worship?

We have a policy at Seymour CRC.  We revisit it each year, train new council people and ministry volunteers as they begin their terms, and we practice the evacuation every year. All members get a copy every year in their mailboxes. 

In the past, we have announced the date for the practice but this past year it came as a surprise to everyone. We can empty the building in 3 minutes now.

Here is our policy:

Emergency Evacuation Procedure for Seymour CRC

May 2010 Revision


1) Ordinarily, a drill should take place once a year to familiarize responsible people with their duties and to test for evacuation readiness.

2) A reminder of these procedures should be brought up once a year at a staff meeting and at a full council meeting.  A copy of the policy should be supplied to each staff person, elder and deacon.

3) Each fall, the ministry staff will assess the number of children in nursery, Little Lambs and Children’s Worship, review the entire policy, and determine its adequacy.

Diagrams showing the floor plans of each floor (which must label exits, fire extinguishers, signal alarms, first aid kits and telephones) will be placed in all nurseries, Little Lambs and Children’s Worship rooms.  Laminated signs will be prepared for each classroom or nursery with the identification of the group (“Little Lambs”, etc) on one side and appropriate evacuation guidelines on the other.  The signs will be held up in the designated safe area to help parents readily locate their children.

4) In case of fire, break one of the fire signals located around the church and then inform the person on the pulpit of the emergency.  The sound engineer will call 911.  The pastor must be informed and then make a pre-scripted announcement that has been laminated and placed in the pulpit.  The text of the announcement reads:

1.   Please be seated.

2.    This is an emergency evacuation [State the nature of the actual emergency].

3.   Elders: Leave now to go to the Children’s Worship rooms and to assist people with special needs.

4.   Deacons: Leave now to go to the Nurseries and the Little Lambs rooms.

5.   Staff: Leave now for your emergency assignments.

6.   Congregation:

a.   Staff will instruct you when and where to exit.

b.   When you are told, leave in and calm and orderly manner.

c.   Reassemble on the playground south of the parking lot.

d.   Children are being evacuated separately and you can meet them in the safe area.

7.  Staff: Dismiss the congregation now.


5) After the announcement, the following must happen quickly, calmly, and efficiently.  The objective is to evacuate the church in less than 3 minutes.

A) The Ministry Staff, Office Staff, and Custodial Staff are responsible for directing a calm, orderly exit of the sanctuary in case of emergency.  They should regularly review this policy and be aware of which exit corresponds with their emergency assignment. The ministry staff will remind the Children’s Worship and Little Lambs leaders and nursery attendants of the proper procedures and responsibilities regarding emergency evacuation.

From the rear center aisle the assigned staff will dismiss the back seventeen (17) rows, back to front, via the center aisle out the Alger Street doors, while staff assigned to the rear side aisles will dismiss the balcony out the Alger Street doors.  Staff members assigned to the front west will dismiss the front west rows, front to back, via the southwest sanctuary doors and west exterior doors facing the shopping center.  The staff person assigned to the front east will exit the front east rows, from front to back, via the south east sanctuary doors and east doors facing Marshall Avenue.  The Fellowship Room will exit to the parking lot via the south exterior doors under the portico.  Everyone is to proceed to the area inside the fence behind 5/3 Bank so as to make room for others exiting and for the emergency workers.  After the sanctuary is empty, the head of staff will check the restrooms.

[Actual evacuation routes may change due to the nature of the emergency.  If alternations need to be made, the pastor will give appropriate instructions when the emergency announcement is given to the congregation].

B) The deaconsare responsible for evacuating the nurseries and Little Lambs double room and will be assisted by nursery attendants.  The two nurseries and the Little Lambs room are to exit up the stairs next to the elevator and out the south doors under the portico.

C) The eldersare responsible for evacuating the children’s worship area on the second floor.  Assisted by the instructors, they are to go out the closest, safest exit, primarily Marshall Avenue, secondarily the exit facing the shopping center.  In the summer, these children are in the basement assembly room and should be evacuated by elders up the north stairwells to the Alger Street exits.  Once the Children’s Worship area is evacuated, the elders will assist with the evacuation of the nurseries.  After evacuating the children, elders should check the Fellowship Room to make sure no one remains or needs assistance.

All children are to be exited single file or carried, if needed, to the area inside the fence behind 5/3 Bank and join their families.

D) The four greeting elders for the day will be assigned the responsibility of assisting people with special needs and checking the total facility.

E) Teachers, helpers, and nursery volunteerswho evacuate the children will be responsible for keeping the class together until they are assembled in the designated safe area.  The check-in lists from each class or room should be taken along when evacuating.  Parents will not collect the children until the entire class is assembled in the safe area.  Teachers will only dismiss children to parents. The children should be marked off the list as they are picked up.

F) The last deacon or elderto leave each area shall turn off the lights and station himself or herself at their stairwell directing parents to the area inside the fence behind 5/3 Bank.  Do not allow anyone to reenter the building until the all clear is given.


If the emergency occurs during church school or adult education, the council members remaining are to evacuate these same areas with the assistance of those leading classes.  Alternate exits may be chosen if conditions require.  The objective is to get everyone out in less than three minutes.

If an emergency occurs at times other than during worship, the adults in charge of a particular group of children will safely escort their group to the assembly area on the former Evergreen playground and stay with the group until all have been picked up.

Storm Warnings/Watches

Tornado Watch – Any scheduled event should be canceled if there is a tornado watch or warning one hour prior to that event.  If a tornado watch is announced just prior to or during any event, the congregation will just have the option of staying or going home following an announcement from the pulpit.

Tornado Warning – Should a tornado warning be issued and/or sirens heard, the minister or person in charge should instruct everyone to go to the basement.  If it is during a worship service, the same evacuation procedures should be followed as for fire except all would meet in the basement rather than on the playground.                                                                                                            Rev. 5/10                                                                                                               

Great policy! I can sse we will need to update ours.

Ginny, thank you for sharing your policy with us! We have a fire evacuation plan, based on procedures used at our local Christian school, but it primarily addresses nursery and all Sunday school classrooms.  We have been missing details about how to handle our main sanctuary evacuation and your plan will be a great template for us to finish that portion. 

Our procedure includes:

Count children before leaving the room & check the number against the attendance sheet

Bring the attendance sheet with them along with a red and green card

At the safe zone recount  children and make sure it matches the attendance sheet

If everyone is accounted for hold up the green card

If anyone is missing hold up the red card


 With over 150 children this allows us to identify very quickly if any of them are missing and unaccounted for.