Fires, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, arson and active shooters can all affect houses of worship. With incidents occurring with little to no warning, many houses of worship are developing and updating plans and procedures to ensure the safety and security of their congregations, staff, and facilities.
Training and planning exercises may enhance the disaster preparedness – and response and recovery capabilities and capacity – of the voluntary, faith-based, and community partner organizations, staff and volunteers.
Learn more about the DHS Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives.
Search for disaster declarations and other important news for your state.
Make an Emergency Plan
When houses of worship collaborate in partnership with their local government, first responders, emergency managers and public health officials, they can better plan for potential emergencies by creating an emergency operations plan.
- Guide: Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship (Or view as a webinar)
- Webinar: Keep Your Office, House of Worship, or Community Center Safe
- Webinar: Helping Your Community Get Ready for Hurricanes
Continue reading for planning resources specific to natural disasters, active shooters, bomb prevention, security and human trafficking.
Natural Disaster Planning Playbooks
Operational plans provide an approach to test and evaluate how to respond to a natural or man-made emergency or disaster.
Active Shooter Preparedness
Comprehensive active shooter preparedness programs position public and private sector stakeholders to more effectively plan and prepare against this threat. Following the “run, hide, fight” concept, the program delivers online and in-person training.
- Active Shooter: What You Can Do
- Preparing for Mass Casualty Incidents: A Guide for Schools, Higher Education, and Houses of Worship
- Active Threats on Campuses: Protective Measures and Response: This 8-hour, performance-level course.
- Fact Sheet: Active Shooter Attacks
- Free Mobile App: Helps local law enforcement work with leaders of houses of worship to evaluate their facilities, create plans for preventing attacks and prepare for other catastrophic events.
Bomb Prevention Planning
It's important to know what steps everyday citizens can and should take in the event of a bomb threat. The Department of Homeland Security's bomb prevention office has guidance on what to do during a bomb threat and planning for facility owners, operators and managers.
Through the Hometown Security Initiative, DHS asks communities to Connect, Plan, Train, and Report. Applying these four steps to prepare for an incident or attack can help faith and community leaders support the safety and security of the communities they serve.
- Protecting Faith- Based Venues (Page 14)
- Reduce the Likelihood or Impact of an Attack on Local Venues (CISA)
- Surveillance Awareness: What You Can Do (Training)
- Mass Gatherings: Security Awareness for Soft Targets and Crowded Places (Fact Sheet)
- Mass Gatherings: Take Charge of Your Personal Safety (Fact Sheet)
Preventing Human Trafficking
The DHS Blue Campaign is a national public awareness campaign, designed to educate on how to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond to possible cases.
- Faith-Based and Community Toolkit in English and Spanish helps recognize and respond to human trafficking and build stronger partnerships with social service agencies, advocacy groups and law enforcement to provides actionable steps in the development of trauma-informed approaches in houses of worship.
- Download the human trafficking awareness videos.
- Webinar: Preventing Human Trafficking in Disasters: What You Need to Know and What You Can Do.
Training and Exercises
No-cost resources provide faith and community leaders and employers information and education on how to prepare for and mitigate against an emergency or disaster, including an active shooter incident.
Are you Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness
Preparing for Mass Casualty Incidents: A Guide for Schools, Higher Education and Houses of Worship
Community Preparedness: Implementing Simple Activities for Everyone
Mobilizing Faith-Based Community Organizations in Preparing for Disaster: 8-hour, planning and management-level course.
Preparedness for Child Care Providers: 2-hour course to identify, assess, and plan for hazards at a child care site
Create an exercise toolkit account in the Preparedness Toolkit portal.
Join a FEMA virtual table top exercise where faith-based organizations can participate with other organizations in their community.
Join DHS Emergency Services Sector-Specific Tabletop Exercise Program (SSTEP) where houses of worship develop interactive, discussion-based exercises by leveraging pre-built exercise templates.
Public Assistance Grants
Learn about availability and eligibility of public assistance grants.
You can also view our Houses of Worship Applicant Fact Sheet or take an online training to improve your knowledge on how FEMA delivers Public Assistance grant funding to private nonprofit organizations: IS 1026 Eligibility of Private Nonprofit Organizations.
Emergency Managers: Resources to Engage Faith-Based Communities
- Engaging Faith-based and Community Organizations: Planning Considerations for Emergency Managers
- Religious and Cultural Literacy and Competency in Disaster (Training)
- Tip Sheets and Additional Resources (PDFs)
- Religious Literacy Primer to Improve Engagement with Faith Communities (PDF)
DHS Nonprofit Security Grant Program
The Nonprofit Security Grant Program provides funding support for target hardening and other physical security enhancements to nonprofit organizations. This funding is available to promote emergency preparedness coordination and collaboration between public and private community representatives. See all FEMA preparedness grants.
Emergency Food and Shelter Program
The Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) supplements and expands the ongoing work of local social service organizations, both nonprofit and governmental, to provide shelter, food and supportive services to individuals, families and households who are experiencing, or at risk of, hunger and/or homelessness. Learn more about the EFSP.