The recent shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church claimed the lives of nine people, and is a somber reminder the worst can happen anywhere. While places of worship are generally considered safe, bad things can still happen.

While church shootings are rare, church personnel should be aware, trained and prepared. Here's how:

Establish and Educate a Team
Get an "action team" in place, and make sure everyone knows their roles. Create a phone list in your mobile phone, and make sure you're meeting regularly and communicating about your roles. Train your team in things like CPR, safety issues and even crisis strategies.

Review the Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship, a manual released by the government in 2013. This document includes a section on addressing active shooter situations.

Asses the Church
Make sure locks work, security systems are set up, windows close properly, phone lines are easily accessible and clear escape routes are in place. If your church is in what's considered to be a dangerous area, consider a security system or even church guard.

Stay Calm
Church is a place for worship, and members need to feel safe and at home there. In the event of an emergency, those in charge need to stay calm and act quickly and confidently.

In addition, things like electrical fires, water damage and adverse weather conditions can threaten a church. Having a team in place to respond to emergencies will help everything run more smoothly when disaster strikes -- even if it's something minor like a snowed-in parking lot.

On the insurance side of things, make sure to talk to your agent about what's covered in your church's insurance policy, and adjust as necessary.

So here's to being insured, prepared, and educated, so we can enjoy our right to worship freely and safely.

Photo Credit: Tumbling Run.

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