Getting your church ready for Christmas

03 October 2022

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but with the special events and services, extra visitors and festive decorations in your church, it can mean a little extra planning in order to keep everyone safe.

Candle in a church

Decorating your church

Christmas lights

Christmas lights can look lovely in your church but may introduce additional risks that need managing. Adopting some simple safety measures, including the following, will help:

  • Take care when putting up the lights; string them up securely
  • Check that power leads/trailing cables do not create a trip hazard
  • Make sure the lights are safe to use (have they been subject to portable appliance testing) and regularly examine them during the festive period
  • Don’t leave lights on whilst the church is unattended. Read more about electrical safety.

Christmas tree

A wonderful addition to any Christmas scene, but like lights, they can introduce new risks that need to be managed.

Carefully plan the best place to put up your tree, locating them well away from candles, given their combustible nature. Make sure that the tree doesn’t block any exit routes from the building; this should be considered as part of your fire risk assessment, and ensure it is securely mounted to prevent it from falling over.

Candles

From lighting the advent candles to candle-lit carol services, candles are an important part of worship at this time of year. We have developed some helpful guidance on their safe use, setting out some simple measures churches should consider. Find out more about using candles safely.

Review the potential fire risk

Extra lights, candles and Christmas trees can do wonders in making your church look wonderfully festive but can also increase the fire risk. We recommend reviewing your fire risk assessment ahead of the festive season and making sure to follow our advice on Christmas lights, candles and trees. 

Find out more about fire safety considerations and download our fire risk assessment form.

Completing tasks at height

Preparing your church for the celebrations may mean completing tasks at height, for example, putting up lights or other decorations. Unfortunately, people have fallen from ladders or through fragile materials.

Our working at height information has plenty of tips on ensuring those helping this way are kept safe.

Christmas events

At Christmas, many churches hold special services, events and concerts. Most of the time, such activities represent little or no additional risk. However, larger events can present some additional or more significant ones.

In these circumstances, consider any additional precautions that might be necessary. Any action you take needs to be proportionate. Precautions will reflect the size and nature of the event, the size and location of your church or another venue, the number of volunteers involved, the number of visitors you expect to attend, and the nature of the activities involved in the event itself.

You can find out more on our events pages.

Keeping visitors safe from slip and trip hazards

Slips and trips are the most common causes of injury in churches. Keep footpaths and steps safe during wintry weather.

You can do this by:

  • Identifying areas used by pedestrians that are most likely to be affected
  • Checking weather forecasts to identify when adverse weather may affect access routes
  • Gritting slippery areas in frosty or icy conditions
  • Clearing access routes where snow has fallen
  • Diverting pedestrians to less slippery walkways and possibly fencing off those that are unsafe where needed.

The gov.uk website has more information on clearing snow and ice.