Whether baptisms take place using full immersion in a church font or pool, infant sprinkling using an affusion font, or immersion in a natural body of water such as a creek, river or at the beach, there are a number of safety issues to consider.
- The potential for drownings – especially of children.
- Risk of slips, trips and falls on wet and slippery surfaces.
- The potential for infection from unfiltered or old water.
- Building damage from water leakages.
- Burns from overheated water.
- Water and electricity combined – this can be a lethal mix!
Some tips for baptistery safety:
- Safety barrier – a child-proof barrier should be provided around the font or pool.
- Floor surfaces nearby – these should be slip-resistant, and dried off after each person has exited the font or pool.
- Hygiene – baptistery water should be changed each day, and filtered and disinfected regularly to prevent infection.
- Font leak inspections – these should be done regularly, especially if the water level appears to be going down.
- Heating – a thermostat should be installed to prevent overheating of water and the potential for burns.
- Electricity and plumbing – the font or pool should be installed and maintained by professional licenced plumbers and electricians.
When it comes to the use of electricity, particular care needs to be taken. This includes:
- Never use or even touch a wired microphone while in or near baptism fonts. Instead, use a cordless battery-operated model. In addition, any wired microphones should be kept at least two metres from the font or pool.
- A residual current device (RCD) or safety switch should be installed in all nearby electrical outlets in case of contact with water.
- All electrical equipment such as camcorders or electrical musical instruments should be kept away from the font – by at least two metres.
- All heating elements and electronic equipment in the vicinity should be properly earthed.
- A qualified electrician should be consulted for any concerns you have regarding the use of electrical equipment while the font is in use.
Baptisms should be a joyous occasion. Help to keep your church’s baptism days that way by having sound safety procedures in place at all times.
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Written by Tess OliverTags: health & safety, risk management