Protecting Houses of Worship
In recent years, it’s become clear that houses of worship have taken their place among movie theaters, concert venues, schools, and other facilities as places that are susceptible to violent attacks. Whether it’s a church, synagogue, mosque, or other houses of worship, an unwelcome party can cause untold devastation without the right precautions.
While houses of worship want to be open and welcoming places, they also have a duty of care to fulfill to put their best foot forward when it comes to protecting their congregations. A mass notification system can help by quickly alerting members that an emergency is taking place, and preventing other people from entering a dangerous situation. In this blog post, we’ll outline several ways houses of worship can utilize a mass notification system to enhance safety.
Develop a Plan
A mass notification system is only as useful as the thought and preparation put into implementing it. Leaders at houses of worship need to analyze what resources they currently have available and how they can integrate and work with a mass notification system. They need to analyze the scenarios they are most likely to encounter. Active shooter situations and other violent attacks may be at the forefront of your concerns, but consider other situations that might disrupt normal operations, such as medical emergencies, fires, and severe weather.
Mass notifications rely on triggering alerts, so it’s important to also know who will be in charge of making sure alerts get sent out. Houses of worship don’t always have the luxury of having security personnel on site, and leaders may be too preoccupied with services to efficiently trigger a message. Having documented volunteers who will be in charge of safety during a service can help ensure notifications are activated in a timely manner.
Alert the congregation that new procedures will be in place to help familiarize them with the new system. It is important that they recognize where alerts are coming from so that when they receive a notification they know what actions to take.
Leverage Existing Technology
To help get the word out during an emergency, existing technology can be utilized by connecting it to your mass notification system. This will help save time by sending alerts to multiple devices simultaneously. Once you understand what scenarios you need to plan for and who will be part of the team sending alerts, look at what tools you already have that can help distribute messages.
Digital signage, IP speakers, and phones are three prevalent technologies that you may already be using. With the right mass notification system, you can add value to your investment by leveraging them for safety alerts. Digital signage outside of a house of worship can let people know an emergency is taking place. This can help get the attention of local law enforcement and prevent people from entering the building during a dangerous event. IP speakers inside can be used to broadcast a message and interrupt ongoing services with important announcements. Similarly, phones in offices can be used to trigger and broadcast alerts with the right configurations.
Utilizing mobile alerts is also important. While people may not be accessing their phones during services, houses of worship may host multiple services on the same day. Sending an alert to a congregation that may plan on coming later in the day will help make them aware of the situation and avoid the area. It can also be used to request assistance from volunteers if the situation calls for it.
Houses of worship should also consider utilizing panic buttons to help trigger alerts. You need a quick and easy way to notify people during an emergency. A mass notification system can be configured with prebuilt messages that get sent to specific groups when a panic button is pressed. It provides a discreet method and can be less cumbersome to install in places where people worship than a desk phone.
All of these devices can work with your mass notification system to build an ecosystem that keeps people safe and informed.
Consider InformaCast for Mass Notification
Our InformaCast mass notification software can be deployed in your house of worship to help accomplish the use cases listed above. It combines mobile and on-premises notifications to give you the best option for alerting everyone in your congregation about potentially serious events. Watch our online demo for more details about how this solution can work in your house of worship