Deck the Halls with Fire Safety

Decorating for the holidays are a great way to get into the holiday spirit and celebrate with family and friends, but holiday decorations can also present fire risks that can introduce tragedy to this joyous season. Holiday decorations often introduce extra combustible fuel loads and new ignition sources, and if they are not put up safely, can greatly increase the risk of fire. Follow these tips to ensure that your holidays are safe and enjoyable.

Holiday Lights and Decorations

  • Keep candles away from decorations and combustible materials
  • Make sure all lights and electrical decorations you buy are labeled with the name of an independent testing lab
  • Check the manufacturer’s instructions for use and storage, and follow them carefully
  • Inspect light strands for damage and fix or replace faulty parts before plugging the lights in
  • Do not overload extension cords, and avoid connecting more than 3 strands of lights together
  • Never mount lights with staples or nails, because they could damage the wire insulation … Use clips to mount the lights instead
  • Turn off all light strands and electrical decorations before you go to sleep or leave your home
  • Bring outdoor lights inside after the holiday season to reduce fire hazards and extend the life of the lights

Do you want to get into the holiday spirit here on campus? If so, Fire Prevention Services is here to help! Holiday decorations are permitted in office and common areas on campus where they comply with the requirements of NFPA 1, Fire Code. Decorations cannot take up more than 20% of the wall on which they are attached, and must not cover or block access to emergency equipment such as fire alarm pull stations or notification appliances. Decorations may not be hung from the ceiling. Temporary decorative lighting, including holiday lighting,  is only permitted if you have been issued a Temporary Decorative Lighting Permit from Fire Prevention Services, for more information visit our Special Events Permitting page and see the FPS policy for Temporary Decorative Lighting (PDF). Temporary decorative lighting is not permitted in dorm rooms or in non-sprinklered buildings.

Buying a Christmas Tree

  • Purchase only live or cut trees that have fresh, green needles, and do not purchase a tree that is dry or is dropping needles
  • Be sure any artificial trees you buy are labeled "flame-retardant"

Setting Up a Christmas Tree

  • Use a sturdy tree stand that is designed not to tip over
  • Make sure the tree does not block an exit, and try to place it near an outlet so you do not need to run light cords across the room
  • Place the tree at least three feet away from all heat sources, such as fireplaces, wood stoves and radiators

Christmas Tree Lights

  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree, and place all candles far away from branches
  • Buy the right kind of lights: some lights are designed for outdoor or indoor use but not both, so use the appropriate type of lights and follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Make sure that larger bulbs have some type of reflector around them, so they are not just bare bulbs
  • Do not use any light strands that have loose bulb connections or worn, frayed, or broken cords
  • Never use electric lights on a metal tree
  • Always unplug Christmas tree lights before going to sleep or leaving your home

Christmas Tree Maintenance

  • Water the tree daily to keep it as moist as possible
  • Dispose of the tree properly once it starts dropping needles—dried-out trees are highly flammable, so you should not leave them in the house or garage, or lean them against the side of your home