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Proactive prevention keeps buildings, grounds safe

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s especially true when it comes to security and protecting your ministry’s property. To help avoid a potentially dangerous and costly situation, make sure you’re following these practices to strengthen your perimeter. 

 Upgrade your outdoor lighting. Using the right size lamps and fixtures helps create a feeling of safety for staff, congregants, volunteers and visitors. A good reference guide is the U.S. Department of Energy’s Exterior Lighting for Energy Savings, Security, and Safety. Also consider replacing incandescent lights with LED bulbs. LEDs are a little more expensive, but last longer and are typically brighter. 

Install security cameras. Digital security cameras can connect wirelessly to a recording system in your main office or directly to your security company. Install them near doorways and other high-traffic areas. Make sure your cameras are near a light source so the images on your video are clear. Most companies offer mobile apps so key leaders are able to quickly access the cameras in real time, especially in the case of an emergency or if no one is monitoring the feed. 

Consider audible alarms. Many times, audible alarm systems are overlooked in favor of silent alarms. The sound of an alarm, however, is exactly what you need to signal an emergency. The sound can also alert neighbors and passersby to potential danger. Many alarm systems now come with a pulsating strobe light that is visible for miles. This helps you or authorities pinpoint the exact location of an incident. 

Install deadbolts. Deadbolts provide the best possible security of any door locks. You can get models that use letter combinations, passcodes or even your fingerprint to open doors. 

Consider an electronic keycard system. Many religious institutions today are replacing traditional key systems with keyless, electronic cards. With a keyless system, you can: 

  • Manage a person’s access via computer. 

  • Identify who used specific doors (and when). 

  • Deactivate a keycard when someone leaves the organization. 

Add safety curbs and barriers. If you think of your grounds as concentric circles, you want to be sure you have the right safety equipment in each area. In the outer circle, safety typically means controlling foot and automobile traffic. Adding curbs around your grounds is a good way to direct the flow of traffic precisely where you want it to go. In addition, safety curbs or retaining walls offer security benefits. Terraces, raised plant beds, trees, planters, fencing, gatehouses and bollards also are good protective tools. Many houses of worship are using them to divert traffic, provide added security and beautify grounds. Consider temporary barriers for special events or festivals, too. 

Did you know? 

Burglars victimize 4,500 churches each year, with the median burglary loss estimated at $2,000. 

To access additional information, resources, tips and more for houses of worship, visit