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Take Steps Now to Prevent Falls

Slips, trips and falls can be caused by anything from an icy sidewalk to a loose stairway handrail. They are also a top cause of visits to the emergency room. To prevent them in your church, put yourself in a visitor's shoes.

The risk management experts at Brotherhood Mutual encourage churches to look around at their church property as if they are a first-time guest who’s not familiar with your parking lot and your building. Start by reviewing these five areas.

Parking Lot

A visitor's first impression of your church starts in the parking lot. Make it appealing and safe.

  • Provide clear signage and assure that drop-off areas are well-marked.
  • Repair cracks and potholes quickly.
  • Keep gravel parking lots evenly graded.
  • Coat curbs with reflective, non-slip yellow paint.

Sidewalks

Make it easy for people to access your building.

  • Grind down uneven slabs.
  • Clear away debris, such as limbs and small pebbles, before each service.
  • Assure the sidewalks are clear of snow and ice.
  • Station volunteers to assist those who need help, such as senior citizens.

Floors

The inside of your building should be clear of tripping hazards, too.

  • Place skid-resistant mats just inside each doorway.
  • Keep uncarpeted entryways free of slick spots.
  • Use caution signs to alert people to slippery conditions during inclement weather.
  • Check for hazards such as loose edging and frayed, ripped or bunched sections of carpet.

Stairways

Stairs have the potential to cause disastrous tumbles.

  • Ensure your handrails are sturdy enough to support people using the stairs.
  • Make each stair step distinct with a contrasting edge treatment so it is easy to see.
  • Maintain carpet so there’s no fraying or tearing.
  • Treat hard surfaces with slip-resistant coating.

Lighting

While lighting is overhead, it can make a big difference in protecting what’s underfoot.

  • Provide sufficient light to illuminate the entire area.
  • Limit bright light in areas where it tends to create a glare.
  • Illuminate your entrances and parking lots, especially at night.
  • Install motion sensor lighting that turns on automatically as people move around the building.

Your ushers, greeters and safety team members are the first line of defense in identifying slip-and-fall hazards. Encourage them to keep an eye out for hazards that could lead to a fall — and to find a solution, even if temporary, as soon as possible. They should also alert people to hazards and offer help navigating around them.

Putting these tips into practice can help ensure your guests — and church members — are on sure footing each time they step onto your property.