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Fire Safety Tips for the Holidays

If you’re in charge of decorating the office for the holidays, you may revel in the twinkling lights and brightly colored decorations that provide a reprieve from the short, cold days of winter. While you probably go about your work routine as usual up until the end of the month, the décor is sure to boost everyone’s spirits!

Of course, you can’t forget about safety, even amongst all the celebrating. After all, Christmas decorations can be a fire hazard if handled incorrectly. Consider that fire departments across the US respond to an average of 3,340 office fires per year. Tragically, these incidents result in four deaths, 44 injuries, and $112 million in property damage annually.

So, how hazardous are holiday decorations, and how much do they contribute to annual office fires? The answer depends on what the decorations are made of, where they’re placed, and how they’re used. Your best bet is to follow these fire safety tips for the holidays.

Decorating Your Space

  • Use office decorations that are flame retardant or resistant. Even with your careful selection, place decorations no closer than three feet from open flames, lamps, and other sources of heat.
  • Read the labels on Christmas light packages carefully before purchasing any for your office. Look for the UL listing mark, and if you plan to set up any lights outside, make sure the strands are rated for outdoor use.
  • If you’re reusing lights from last year, carefully scrutinize each strand. Replace any broken or missing bulbs, and refrain from using strands with loose bulb connections or frayed cords.
  • Hang lights using clips designed for the task instead of nails, which could damage the cords and possibly cause a spark.
  • Run extension cords along the wall where people won’t trip over them. Refrain from running cables under rugs or furniture, and never attach multiple extension cords together.

Office Christmas Tree Safety Tips

  • If you pick out a live tree for your office or building, choose one with healthy, green needles that don’t fall off when you touch them. Cut two inches from the bottom of the tree and place it in a sturdy stand. Water the tree daily to keep it moist.
  • Whether live or fake, place your Christmas tree at least three feet away from radiators, candles, lamps, and other heat sources.
  • When decorating the office Christmas tree, use UL-listed lights rated for indoor use. Make sure the lights are in good condition before you hang them, and only connect the number of strands allowed by the manufacturer. Set the Christmas tree lights on a timer or switch so you can easily turn them off at the end of each workday.
  • Dried-out trees are a fire hazard, so promptly recycle or throw away your Christmas tree when the needles start falling off in early January.

Light Candles Carefully

  • Store matches and lighters in a secure place.
  • Place candles in sturdy holders on a flat, elevated surface at least 12 inches from the edge.
  • Don’t let candles burn unattended, and only leave them lit for a few hours at a time.
  • Keep lit candles away from holiday decorations and other flammable items.

Check Your Building’s Fire Safety Equipment

Hopefully, your efforts to follow these fire safety tips are enough to prevent a fire this holiday season. Still, you want to be ready just in case. To ensure your building is prepared to handle a fire, check that portable fire extinguishers are present and fully charged. Then, confirm that the smoke alarms are working by pressing the test button on all of them. (Now is also a great time to change the batteries.)

If you discover that anything is wrong with your fire protection equipment, contact Unifour Fire & Safety. We’ll remedy the problem and get your building safe and up to code for the remainder of the holiday season.