Every week in churches across America baptisms take place. Thankfully, the majority of baptisms go off without a hitch. Nevertheless, churches need to be aware of the dangers that accompany the mix of water, people and electricity that baptisms entail. Take this claim for example:
During a dress rehearsal for an Easter play production, one of the cast members was walking in a dimly lit area behind the sanctuary. The individual stepped and fell into an uncovered empty baptismal tank that was six feet deep. She injured her knee, shoulder and head.
Continue reading to learn about the risks surrounding baptisteries and help prevent losses associated with the use of a baptistery at your church.
According to the United States Department of Labor, approximately five percent of workplace deaths involve electricity. Because skin acts a conductor when wet or moist, anyone working near electricity in a damp environment should exercise extreme caution at all times. It is for that reason cordless, battery-powered microphones should be used around baptisteries. If cordless microphones are not a possibility for your church, consider the following:
- Suspend the microphone from the ceiling above the baptistery.
- Plug electrical equipment near a baptistery into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. The outlet will sense when an electrical current is “leaking” and turn off the power flowing into that path. Be sure a certified electrician installs the GFCI and checks that it is working properly.
- Baptismal water heaters should be installed by a licensed electrician and needs to be properly grounded. They also should conduct a periodic inspection of the heater and its grounding.
Slips and Falls
Slips and falls may occur in the area surrounding a baptistery as it will likely be wet, especially following a baptism. Those being baptized also may fall when entering and exiting the tank or by slipping on the floor of the tank itself. In addition, falls into the baptistery even when not in use happen with some regularity. Several safeguards should take place to help minimize the likelihood of a slip or fall from occurring:
- Add no-slip adhesive to the stairs leading to the baptistery;
- Install handrails that extend just beyond the stairs so individuals may enter and exit safely;
- Have carpet or another no-slip surface installed around the baptistery; and
- Cover the baptistery when not in use.
Once filled, baptistery tanks can hold several hundred gallons of water. If overfilling or leaking of the baptistery tank occurs, water damage can result. Prevent water damage from occurring by:
- Always having someone monitor the baptistery while it’s being filled;
- Inspecting all water lines and connections for possible leaks; and
- Installing an overfill prevention pipe.
By taking these preventative measures now, you will likely prevent an unfortunate baptistery event from occurring. For more information on how to keep your church safe, visit SafeChurch.com.
Originally posted on GuideOne
This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.
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