Remember these safety tips while decorating for the holidays

Holiday safety is an issue that burns brightest from late November to mid-January when students, faculty, and staff gather for holiday parties and decorate their offices or rooms. Decorating is one of the best ways to get in the holiday spirit, but fires and injuries caused by improper use of electrical decorations such as lights, candles or other open flames can injure or kill. To avoid these incidences, members can take basic precautions to ensure their safety throughout the season:

  • Decorations of all types shall be either non-combustible or adequately treated to render them fire-resistant.  Decorations are allowed 14 calendar days before the holiday or event. All decorations are expected to be removed no later than seven calendar days after the holiday or event. Artificial wrapped presents kept on the floor are limited to lobby areas. Keep wrapping paper on artwork to a minimum (i.e., less than 10% of the wall). The use of trees or wreaths shall be restricted to artificial types containing a Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or (Factory Mutual) (FM) tag or seal indicating satisfactory fire resistance. No live or cut trees or wreaths are allowed. Do not use strings of lights on metal trees.
  • Streamers, garlands, lights and other decorations cannot run along or across halls, obstruct or restrict aisles, passageways, or corridors; be hung from smoke detectors or sprinkler heads or obstruct exits signs, fire extinguishers or other fire equipment. Holiday lighting strings must be double insulated or grounded and have an approval rating from either UL or FM. A maximum of three strands may be connected together. No extension cords shall be used to light strings of lights, only a circuit breaker-protected power strip shall be used.
  • Decorations may not be attached to doors, walls, or painted surfaces by any methods which would damage the surface or leave behind adhesive residue (i.e., low adhesive masking tape is preferred). Any costs associated with damage caused by the installation or removal of decorative materials will be the responsibility of the department.
  • Prohibited items include, but are not limited to, the following list:
    • Latex balloons, silly-string, bubbles, glitter, confetti, rice or birdseed.
    • Fireworks (including sparklers) or weapons of any kind.
    • Live animals (except for those assisting individuals with disabilities).
    • Any item with an open flame such as candles or incense.
    • Decorative materials may not be placed on fire doors, smoke doors, light fixtures, electrical equipment, electrical outlets, circuit breaker panels, etc.
    • Cut trees, tree branches, pinecones, wreaths, mistletoe, and live potted plants. Artificial trees, wreaths, and other seasonal decorations must be fire or flame-retardant. It is the department’s responsibility to save packaging material as proof to the fire marshal that decorative materials have received flame-retardant treatment.

The following list of materials may not be used for decorations under any circumstances because they are inherently combustible or cannot be flame proofed:

  • Bamboo
  • Cedar trees or branches
  • Corn stalks or shucks
  • Cotton or confetti (loose, in large quantities)
  • Dry moss or leaves
  • Flammable powders or liquids
  • Hay or straw (loose or baled)
  • Paper streamers (serpentine)
  • Plastic sheeting or pellets
  • Sawdust
  • Tumbleweeds
  • Wood Bark or shavings

For more information, please contact the WSU Fire & Safety Office at 316-978-5803 or 5531.