Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

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How to Make Your Church a Comfort Care Center

Story by Kimberly Luste Maran

Want to make your church a comfort care center to help community members in extreme weather conditions?

Required Criteria

• Heating and cooling systems maintaining minimum temperature of 68°F during fall and winter and 72°F during spring and summer months

• NOT enrolled in the "voluntary black out" program offered by electric utility providers

• Accessible to people with disabilities/ADA-compliant

• Ample seating appropriate to your community

• Public restrooms accessible to people with disabilities

• Access to potable water (drinking fountain, etc.)

• Access to 9-1-1 services (phone or payphone)

• Parking lot with enough spaces for your community


Suggested Criteria

• Parking lot large enough to accommodate a bus

• Proximity to public transit

• Back-up generator and adequate fuel supply (consider planning for up to seven days)

• Adequate electrical outlets/capability to charge electronic devices (cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc.)

• Area for pets

• Secure—consider security services and ability to lock doors and control access to your facility and areas of your facility

• Accessible communications—phones (including TDD/TTY), Internet access, sign-language interpreters, alternate language interpreters

• Child friendly with materials for children to play with while at the comfort center

• Infant supplies—diapers, wipes, etc.

• Refrigerator (on back-up power) for medication

• 24-hour, seven days a week operation

• Personal assistance services for people with disabilities

• Available televisions, books, games

• Single stall family bathrooms


Criteria to Consider if Offering Expanded Services

Note: The American Red Cross will not be able to provide assistance to the comfort centers. If the municipality is unable to provide these services on their own the residents should be directed to the closest open Red Cross shelter.

• Transportation for those lacking their own, including wheelchair accessible services

• Follow-up procedures for those in need of additional services (health care, social services, etc.)

• Food (you will need to have a certified food handler on-site at all times)

• Veterinary resources

• Cots, blankets, pillows, cribs

• Shower facilities

• Medical personnel such as nurses and/or aides


What to do

1. Review these requirements and discuss with your leadership

2. Decide if you really want to become a comfort care center. Define which services you will provide.

3. Coordinate with other organizations in your geographic area to avoid redundancies and maximize available resources.

4. Develop a plan and recruit volunteers to operate the comfort care center.

5. Provide a copy of your plan to your local municipality and emergency services.

6. When you activate your comfort care center, notify your local municipality and emergency services.


Information taken directly from the Pennsylvania County of Chester Department of Emergency Services, Comfort Care Center Guidelines

Read the 2016 May Visitor feature articles here.


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