12 Ways to help keep your congregation safe during outdoor summer activities

By Emily Arndt on May 10, 2023

Help ensure a safe summer while better protecting your church from injuries and potential liability.

Spring is here and summer is fast-approaching. Summertime offers opportunities to unify your congregation by bonding in nature and helping your community. From picnics to water parks, and camping to cookouts, churches have a wide variety of activities they can do to bring people together and engage with their community.

While summer is a great time for outdoor togetherness, it also comes with an increased risk of accidents and injuries. That’s why it’s important for church officials to lean on their insurance provider’s risk department and take steps to help mitigate potential accidents to help keep their flock safe, while also protecting themselves from potential liability.

Here are 12 tips to help your church congregation, guests and volunteers stay safe this summer:

  1. Start a safety committee

If your church doesn’t have a safety committee, now is a great time to start one. Your safety committee can help implement the rest of the tips on this list. Organizations with active safety committees are proven to have fewer and less severe accidents. Check out Glatfelter’s basic elements of an in-house safety committee here.

  1. Review what is involved in the event

Before any outdoor event or activity, it's important to assess the potential risks involved. This includes identifying potential hazards, such as uneven terrain, slippery surfaces, bodies of water and exposure to nature’s elements, like severe weather. Report these risks to and seek advice from Glatfelter’s Client Risk Solutions team. Here is a link to religious organization-specific risk materials you can order from Glatfelter.

  1. Set up a first aid station

Setting up a first aid station at your outdoor event is essential – as well as making sure attendees know where it’s located. It’s important to have a station where attendees can go for water, check for ticks or be treated for snake bites and heat exhaustion. Be on the lookout for heat exhaustion symptoms such as fainting and dizziness, nausea and vomiting and rapid pulse.

  1. Provide adequate (vetted) supervision

When youth and/or the elderly are in attendance, it's important to have enough volunteers on hand to supervise. Make sure your volunteers are trained to recognize potential hazards and can respond quickly in the event of an accident or injury. Also, it’s critical that you screen every adult who will be involved in any capacity with minors. Proper screening procedures include a criminal records check, national sex offender registry check and the contacting and documentation of two non-familial references.

  1. Inspect and maintain playgrounds

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 200,000 children are taken to the emergency room every year because of playground injuries. Use Glatfelter’s Playground Inspection Checklist to help keep your church playground safe for play.

  1. Conduct property self-inspections

Use Glatfelter’s Self-Inspection Form for Worship Buildings and Grounds on a quarterly basis to locate and address any damage caused by weather conditions and/or normal wear and tear.

  1. Ensure safe and adequate equipment and facilities

Check all equipment and facilities to ensure they are safe and ready for your event. This includes making sure there is adequate seating, restrooms and water stations, as well as ensuring that any equipment, such as sports gear, is in good condition and safe to use.

  1. Make sure everyone understands the safety guidelines

Ensure the event team, including supervisors and volunteers, understand the safety rules so they can check for compliance among attendees. Check that attendees have easy access to the safety guidelines, such as on signage, and consider having a safety briefing before the event and using the buddy system during the event.

  1. Plan evacuation procedures

You should have an evacuation procedure in place in case a man-made fire, wildfire or other natural disaster occurs. Visit Glatfelter’s Severe Weather Action website for industry-specific resources organized by weather condition.

    10. Ensure third-party vendors are insured

If outside vendors are involved in your event, make sure they provide a certificate of insurance in advance of the event so you can be sure all risk requirements are met. Also, make sure your church is listed as an additional insured on the vendor's policy, if possible.

    11. Get signed waivers of liability from all attendees

Certain activities, such as sporting events or physically demanding games, can result in unexpected injuries. Be sure you have a completed and signed liability waiver on file for every attendee.

    12. Use a charter service for bus trips

If you are planning on using a bus for transportation, Glatfelter recommends you use a charter service so you are provided a professional driver with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and a safety-inspected vehicle.

Tip: if you’re planning a mission trip, be sure to check out Glatfelter’s  Mission Trip Safety tips.

By taking these 12 steps, you can host memorable events for your congregation and community while keeping them safe and protecting yourself from liability. This list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to add other church summer safety tips in the comments below!

Emily Arndt

Em, a proud cat mom to Margot and Teddy, enjoys learning guitar, the beach, writing, and working on her sarcasm.


The information contained in this blog post is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace expert advice in connection with the topics presented. Glatfelter specifically disclaims any liability for any act or omission by any person or entity in connection with the preparation, use or implementation of plans, principles, concepts or information contained in this publication.

Glatfelter does not make any representation or warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the results obtained by the use, adherence or implementation of the material contained in this publication. The implementation of the plans, principles, concepts or materials contained in this publication is not a guarantee that you will achieve a certain desired result. It is strongly recommended that you consult with a professional advisor, architect or other expert prior to the implementation of plans, principles, concepts or materials contained in this publication.

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