House of worship security: Winter challenges?

Winter provides a unique set of challenges to our situational awareness - including at our houses of worship. When you walk in the door, do your glasses fog up? What about the heavy/puffy jackets that conceal any chance of printing?

What challenges do you face at your house of worship or out and about during the cold winter months?


Our Life Safety Ministry sees security as one of many facets to keeping our members and guests safe. Medical, weather, fire, children, property and potentially disruptive or violent people get equal attention.

Wintertime brings it’s own hazards to each of them. Medical issues are often exacerbated in cold weather, ice and snow being tracked in causing slipping hazards, fewer hours of daylight, depression, domestic and financial issues abound.

Since you spoke specifically of security, we tend to keep a closer eye on the parking lot (people are often in a hurry to get out of the cold and leave their cars unlocked, for example). Also, whatever comes into the church is usually going to come through the parking lot, winter or summer.

Everyone is wearing heavier clothing so we watch for bulges where none should be, unusual packages or backpacks (especially unattended), shotgun barrels protruding from beneath overcoats… you know, the usual doesn’t-look-right stuff.

Our team is keenly aware of folks going through domestic situations and our pastoral staff lets us know if anything is going on with a particular family - child custody issues, domestic beefs, hostile in-laws (it happens), boyfriend/girlfriend breakups, business disputes, anything that can spill over from private into the public. For instance, churches are common places where separated parents swap kids back and forth. We let the parties know if one of them think there could be a potential fracas we’d be glad to have one of our team nearby.

By the way, it’s ALWAYS a good idea to have women on the security side of the team. Often they can de-escalate a situation when a male might just get punched. We have annual de-escalation training for ALL our staff and volunteers - ushers, greeters, kids ministry, etc.

We have a kid check-in/check-out system even the pastor’s kid’s grandmother can’t override.

We also hire a an off-duty cop on Sundays. Having a patrol car in the parking lot is an amazing deterrent to nefarious actors and the parents love that their kids safe. The kids love playing with the officer’s handgun and pepper spray, too.

We maintain a fully equipped paramedic cart, O², AED, IFAC, wheelchair, etc., if needed, and have volunteer staff who know how to use it.

For what it’s worth, ours is not a large church, 200+ attenders a week since Covid, less than 500 before that.


During the winter months it is easier for me to conceal my firearm. It is easy for someone who has bad intentions to conceal one also. It’s also difficult to identify a person wearing a mask. We have to be more vigilant and improve our situational awareness.


Winter also brings the chance of a decrease of “visitors” as they don’t hang around outside as much. I too find it easier to conceal in the cooler months. My cool weather attire makes it much easier to conceal, in more comfort than warm weather. Yes, those big coats, and those wearing face masks make it more of a challenge, but, it’s harder for a potential n’er do-well to possibly identify who may or may not be, well, an obstacle for them.


I love non-summer months because I conceal better.
This winter is unique due to covid-related restrictions.
It’s easier from a security standpoint with less people showing up, the only visitors were brought in by members.


I highly recommend wearing these to identify potential threats. .


:joy: Your a funny dude @KillJoy .

I’m glad you mentioned that. I think that’s a bigger deal than cold weather.

Maybe not a huge deal, but I’ll go ahead and mention shorter days. It’s still dark when we’re setting up, and it’s already dark when the evening services start. I can’t say it creates fear, but from a security perspective it’s a bit different than when we get 18 hours of daylight in the Summer months.

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This is an excellent source for observation.

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