Keeping Your Congregation Safe During Winter

May 6, 2014 - 4 minutes read

Icicles-e1456728359538While Australia might not suffer the extreme winter conditions of North America, Canada or parts of Europe, some areas can certainly get pretty chilly during the middle months of the year – particularly in the southern states. Keeping your congregation safe and comfortable during the colder months requires a little planning and maintenance so that when a cold snap arrives, you are fully prepared for it.

Looking after your heating equipment

The best time to check your heating equipment is during the warmer months before you need to use it. Central heating systems should be inspected, maintained and cleaned as required, including the ductwork – damaged or dirty ducts can prevent a heating system from running efficiently and safely and also affect air quality. Portable heaters are not recommended, but if you do use them, practice good church fire safety by ensuring they are placed away from flammable items and water, and that power outlets, plugs and leads are in good condition.

Insulation and sealing

If your building is cold and draughty, you might want to check your insulation. High quality insulation helps reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions and improve comfort, and may even help to soundproof a building. Ideally insulation should be placed in the walls, floors and ceilings; in fact about half of indoor heating / cooling energy can be lost through an uninsulated ceiling or roof.

Draughts may also result from cracks and gaps in a building, which may occur due to contraction and expansion, poor maintenance, moisture buildup and other reasons. Particular areas to inspect include around the building’s windows, doors, and pipes, and also in wet areas, attics and basements. Some gaps may be sealed with caulking or weatherstripping products, while others might require some repair work. Sealing gaps should help to reduce energy costs required to heat (and cool) the building.

Protection from wind

For wind protection it’s important to remove items that could easily become windborne, and to keep trees trimmed and healthy and cut away any branches that overhang the roof. Even seemingly innocuous branches can become dangerous missiles in strong winds. Old, diseased trees and brittle branches should be removed altogether for safety reasons. Our article on tree maintenance provides more detail on this subject.

Storm and lightning protection

Storms, lightning and flash floods can cause injuries and do enormous damage to property and cars. Heavy storms, hail and wind can damage roofs and windows in particular, while lightning strikes can cause power surges and damage to electrical equipment, and spark fires leading to property loss. Prepare for stormy weather by securing outside items, clearing gutters of leaves and other debris, and trimming trees on the property. If you are concerned about lightning, consider installing a lightning protection system.

Roof maintenance

Roof maintenance is particularly important to protect your building from inclement weather events. Before the wet season in your region you should get a roof inspection done and deal with problem areas – moisture leaks in your ceiling in particular may indicate that your roof is in need of some repairs. Failure to maintain your building’s roof may also lead to denial of insurance claims – our article on roof maintenance provides more information.

If damage occurs

After bad weather occurs you should inspect your building and repair any damage quickly to prevent the problem from getting worse. If you need to file an insurance claim, download a claim form from our website and contact Liz Matheson as soon as possible.

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