Skip to content

Prepare your church for the big freeze

As the chimes of Auld Lang Syne fade away and the New Year gets under way, January’s cold weather can take its toll on churches across the country. Make sure you are prepared for winter by protecting your water pipes and being ready for ice and snow on paths.

Watch our video

Take a look at our quick video for more tips and advice on preparing your church during the cold weather.

  • Read the video transcript

    School folders  

    The freezing weather often has a tendency to creep up on us, so it’s important to make sure your church is prepared for winter. Our winter risk advice can help you to guarantee that your new year starts with a cheer.

    Ensuring your pipes are in good condition, keeping your church heated throughout the cold spell, making regular visits to your church and taking a few minutes to find out where the stopcock is are all things that can save you a big headache, and even bigger bills, this winter.

    One thing to think about is that the number of slips and trips shoots up when there is snow on the ground, so it’s important to take preventative measures to protect others and, ultimately, yourself. You and your church trustees have a duty of care to ensure the safety of all church visitors; and this becomes even more relevant when the freezing weather comes to town.

    Don’t forget that the safety of anyone clearing snow and ice must be taken into consideration as well!

    When the worst of winter hits, you’ll be glad you took the time to minimise any risks that can accompany cold weather.

Tips and advice

We have brought together some top tips and advice to make sure you know what to do should freezing conditions arrive in January. Leaking water can cause untold damage so make sure you are up to date on how to look after your pipes. Also, winter brings more than its fair share of slips, trips and falls – ensure you are prepared by reading our advice.

  • Ensure your pipes are in good condition

    Cold weather advice  

    Make sure all pipes are well lagged and the heating system is working properly. What starts with a tiny crack can end with gallons of water ruining brickwork, tiles, fabrics and all your thoughts of a joyous season.

    You can also reduce the risk of problems by ensuring that your boiler and heating systems are serviced; and that the frost thermostat is working correctly. Check out our best practice guidance for further advice.

  • Ensure you all know where the stopcock is

    Cold weather advice  

    It will take a few minutes of your time to ensure that you, trustees and all other responsible people know where to find the church’s stopcock.

    This simple knowledge will prove invaluable if you are unlucky enough to find a burst pipe. Your safety is the most important thing, so once you have turned off the water, think electrics before looking for the mop. Turn off anything electrical that you think has been affected, and don’t use them until you have the all-clear from a professional electrician.

    If you are lucky enough to catch a frozen pipe before it bursts, just turn off your water supply and use a gentle heat to thaw it. A hairdryer or hot water bottle is ideal. Remember gentle and slow: not a blow torch or other naked flame.

  • Ensure safe church access for visitors

    Cold weather advice  

    You and your church trustees have a duty of care to ensure the safety of all church visitors; and this is especially relevant when the winter weather closes in.

    What may be a gentle walk in and out of church in the summer can turn into a series of hazardous pitfalls when the snow and ice arrive.

    It is your responsibility to ensure at least one path - including its lighting and signage – is clear of snow and ice whenever it is reasonable for you to do so.

    The word ‘reasonable’ is all-important. While it might not be reasonable for paths to be cleared during heavy falls of snow, the longer the snow and ice remain on the ground after the fall has ceased, the greater the likelihood of it being considered reasonable for some attempt to be made to clear it.

    By simply monitoring weather forecasts you can have an indication of when heavy snowfall or very low temperatures may occur. This could enable you to take precautions such as putting down rock salt for example.

    It is not necessary to ensure that each and every available path is immediately cleared, so long as there is one safe route available to access the building.

    Please remember, the safety of the persons/s who are responsible for clearing snow and ice must be taken into consideration.

    Please take a look at our best practice guidance for further details about keeping your pathways clear, and check your policy documents for details of any conditions specific to your policy.

More information

We've even more advice on preventing burst pipes and keeping pathways clear, take a look!

Ecclesiastical Insurance Group plc (EIG) Reg No 1718196. Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc (EIO) Reg No 24869. Ecclesiastical Life Ltd (ELL) Reg No 243111. Ecclesiastical Financial Advisory Services Ltd (EFAS) Reg No 2046087. Ecclesiastical Underwriting Management Ltd (EUML) Reg No 2368571. E.I.O. Trustees Ltd Reg No 941199. EdenTree Investment Management Ltd (EIM) Reg No 2519319. All companies are registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1JZ. EIO and ELL are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 113848 (EIO) and 110318 (ELL). EFAS and EIM are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 126123 (EFAS) and 527473 (EIM). EUML is an appointed representative of EIO who is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 402228.