For all the years that I have been writing this column, my primary task has been to emphasize fire safety. Considering the mass shooting...

For all the years that I have been writing this column, my primary task has been to emphasize fire safety. Considering the mass shooting at First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs Texas, I am going to attempt to talk about both. I am thankful for all police officers, but they cannot be everywhere at the instance that they need to be there. It is as important to have a security plan as it is to have a fire escape plan. The issue is to ensure that you are thinking of both, as you develop a comprehensive plan, whether in your home, business, or church. This article will not have all the answers, but it is my intent to get you thinking about ways to make your home, business, or church safer.

What I have learned the hard way is that you need to have deterrents to crime. The first thing that is helpful, from a fire and security perspective, is a monitored alarm system. Many will say that it is important to advertise that your home, business or church is protected by an alarm company. From a security perspective, the alarm system only goes so far. It will tell you where entry was made and may even track a person’s steps through your property, but it does nothing in the way of identification. Security cameras are a necessary piece of a comprehensive security plan. Companies are coming up with easily installed and affordable camera systems that can be monitored on a cell phone or other electronic devices. Another necessary item is appropriate lighting. The more lit up a property is, the less likely that a person will go undetected. Keep in mind, a great security or fire monitoring system are people who pass by and see something that does not look right. Remember, if you see something, say something.

Securing a building that is not occupied or securing your home before everyone goes to sleep is a vital piece to a peaceful rest. Keep in mind, locked doors do not prevent someone from getting in, but you do want to delay entry as much as possible. The types of locks that you have, especially if they are deadbolts, is where fire escape and security sometimes come into conflict. Deadbolts that are locked with a key can be a problem without a plan.

To leave the key in the deadbolt defeats the purpose of the security provided, but might allow you to get out quicker in a fire. I have seen a couple of cases recently where thieves broke the door, door jamb, and locking system as they entered the home. Again, your locking system only slows a criminal from getting into your home, it does not prevent them from getting in. We have come to the day where it will be necessary to lock our church doors while services are taking place. Your church’s door-locking mechanisms must give people the ability to get out, but must prevent people from getting in. While I am talking about doors, let’s address interior doors. From a fire perspective, it is better to sleep with your doors closed. From a security perspective, it is better to sleep with your doors open so that you will possibly hear someone trying to get in. The sad fact is that there is a much greater chance that someone will attempt to break into your home then there being a fire in your home.

I will end with a subject that may not be a good ending point, but here goes. One means of security is the people who carry a concealed weapon. First, it is against the law to carry a concealed weapon without a permit; get your permit! It is then absolutely necessary that those who are carrying know how to use the weapon that they are carrying. Friendly fire has been a problem in military engagements, and I would hate to see a friendly fire situation, if it is at all avoidable. Friendly fire is defined as a person shot by someone that is “on your side,” in a matter of speaking. The person who carries a concealed weapon and is faced with using it has a tremendous responsibility. Let me make this clear: I am not against people carrying a concealed weapon, with the proper permit.

A security plan and a fire escape plan where both issues receive equal billing can be developed. We cannot say that certain things will never happen to us. My heart grieves for what happened at that small church in Texas. I am never surprised by the magnitude of evil. The Bible teaches that evil will one day be put away forevermore. Until then, we must be sober-minded and vigilant, taking nothing for granted. Make peace with God by accepting His Son Jesus, then live your life in Him without fear.