By Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company
Winter is prime time for accidental falls on church property. Icy sidewalks, snowy steps, and wet floors are leading culprits. While many falls result in no injury at all, some can be fatal. Consider these real-life examples:
Walking along a church sidewalk, a man in his late 60s slipped on a patch of ice and fell, striking his head on concrete. He died of his injuries.
A 30-year-old woman slipped on an icy church sidewalk, fracturing her leg. Her medical bills totaled about $30,000.
An elderly lady was attempting to help another elderly woman down the church stairs. She fell and fractured her hip, accruing more than $50,000 in medical expenses.
You may believe such falls are unavoidable, but each of the injuries described above could have been prevented. Here’s how:
In the first example, the icy patch was formed by a downspout that sent water onto the sidewalk. Redirecting the downspout would have eliminated the ice.
In the second example, water dripped from the roof and refroze on the sidewalk. The church could have reduced the likelihood of someone falling by making sure gutters were cleared of debris and properly attached.
In the third example, the fall could have been prevented if an able-bodied person had been appointed to help older people enter and exit the building.
Here are a few more ways churches can prevent costly injuries-at little or no expense.
Organize snow removal
* Create a plan to keep all parking lots, walkways, and entrances free of ice and snow. Pay special attention to walkways on the north side of the church. Because areas may refreeze, volunteers should check walkways and parking lots before each service begins and just before each service ends.
* Maintain an adequate supply of sand, salt, and other de-icers.
* Organize volunteers to remove snow, keep entrances dry, and help those who need assistance to enter and exit the church.
* Arrange to hire a service if snow accumulates above a certain level, such as one inch. Make sure the contractor is insured and has clear guidelines on what to do.
Make floors safe
* Buy mats or rugs with nonskid backings and place them at all entrances. Make sure they lie flat.
* Use nonslip coatings and waxes on floors to improve traction.
* Dry floors quickly if they get wet.
* Alert people to wet floors, using cones or signs.
* Replace worn or frayed carpeting.
Inspect handrails, steps
* Make sure all steps have a securely fastened handrail and meet the standard building codes available from your county building department.
* Repair worn or damaged steps, and paint or mark the edges to differentiate the levels.
Repair sidewalks, parking lots
* Repair cracks to prevent water from penetrating and freezing, which causes larger cracks. Uneven surfaces can cause people to trip, especially when hidden by snow.
* This spring, look for cracks in your walkways and parking lots, and schedule repairs before cold weather sets in.
Article excerpted from “Rev!”. Article written by Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”