Excerpt From “Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch”, now available from Amazon and Kindle:

Facility dangers include problems with furniture, the building, or church equipment that could pose a danger to a child. Why do you think it may be beneficial to have someone new do a walk through with you to identify potential problems with the facility? The reality is that unless you are new to the church, you may be walking right past things in the hallways or classrooms every week and not really notice what is there. You can see without seeing. This is not your fault and not entirely in your control. Studies have proven that after six months of being in a new job, new building, or new area your brain no longer considers the information it is receiving about the environment as new. Your heightened senses go into autopilot so your brain can focus on other “new” information in your life. The American Psychological Association calls this “automatic cognitive processing.” The trash behind the kids’ stage that bothered you so much your first week just isn’t even on your radar anymore. Then a new parent or an intern visits and says, “Wow, what’s with all the candy wrappers behind the puppet stage?” And your first thought is, “How long has that been there? Or “I forgot about that.” Your brain is preprogrammed to begin glossing over visual information so it can pay attention to newer information. Have you ever taken your usual drive to work and not really remembered all of it when you got there? As scary as that may seem, that is how your brain uses its “autopilot” on old information, so that it can to focus on other things. The longer you have been at the church, the worse your perspective can become.  Have a fire fighter, daycare supervisor, or security specialist walk through your kids’ area periodically to check for issues with safety.

Now we are going to do a little field trip. With someone of your choice, walk through your kids’ areas and answer the following questions. And be honest! Jesus is watching.

Are your fire exits all completely clear?                                             Y or N

Are your hallways free of clutter and old junk? It is dangerous, sloppy, and a fire hazard to use your hallway for storage. (I know how badly we all need more storage)                                                         Y or N

Could a child pull something down on themselves? A good rule here is that if they can, they will.                                                                              Y or N

Are all your TVs and heavy equipment bolted to the wall? Are your shelves anchored?                                                                                                  Y or N

Are there jagged edges on or under your tables (kids crawl under there, let’s just be honest)?                                                                               Y or N

Are there splinters or jagged edges on your door frames?            Y or N

Lead paint chips? Exposed wiring?                                                               Y or N

Are cords taped down or up high? Cords pose a nasty tripping hazard.                                                                                                                          Y or N

Are there toys in the nursery that are broken, choking hazards, or fragile?                                                                                                                          Y or N

Are the rooms and toys disinfected regularly?                                     Y or N

Are all chemicals, paints, cleaning supplies, insecticides, or other toxic supplies moved out of the kid’s areas and secured?              Y or N

Are there too many things plugged into one socket?                        Y or N (Too many things plugged into one socket started a fire in our church library once.)

So how do you think your church did on your facility safety check? Give it a grade ________

What area needs the most immediate attention and corrections? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Here’s a tip: We have a checklist posted on the wall of each classroom listing what the leaders need to do and check each week before they leave. It doesn’t take long and it keeps safety in the forefront of our minds. I ask them to test their radio and check the battery level, dispose of all trash and broken toys, report anything missing from the first aid kit, and report any broken equipment, including tables and chairs.

What other things can you think of that could pose a safety hazard for your children’s church facility?