Churches Prepare For Storms

| May 13, 2010

RAYTOWN, Mo. — Severe weather can be a big challenge for places like churches, which can be packed with visitors when the storms arrive.

KMBC's Peggy Breit was at the First Baptist Church of Raytown to see how church officials plan to handle storm emergencies.

The church has a huge membership and activities at its facility all day and night. "You've got children here during the week, too," said security chief Don Keith.

Keith said that the church's security center has 24 cameras to keep an eye on the grounds and interior. The security personnel all have weather alerts coming into their walkie-talkies. In the security office, personnel monitor the National Weather Service.

Keith said that the church's public address system can reach all corners of the 300,000-square-foot facility. The church plans to alert patrons immediately if a dangerous situation develops.

The church has two security officers on duty during the week, and eight for Sunday services.

The stairwells were made wider than normal especially to accommodate large groups of people from the auditorium.

In the event of a weather emergency, Keith said the patrons "would come out the closest door and they would go to different stairs and immediately go downstairs and move away from windows."

Several interior basement rooms have no windows. The hallways are safe from tornadoes as well.

According to Keith, a false alarm on a Sunday morning proved the plan can work. Keith is sure everyone is ready for the real deal. He said, "We've talked with all the Sunday school teachers. We've talked with all the teachers of the little learners. We've talked with the staff of the church and of course, my security team."

The church is expecting about 1,000 visitors Wednesday night. The church officials usually don't cancel plans because of a bad weather threat.

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Category: Church Security