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Holiday Decoration Safety for Commercial Buildings

November 26, 2012

Holiday season is upon us once again and it’s time to bring on the merriment.  We all know (hopefully) not to use real candles in a Christmas tree and not to put flammable decorations around a fireplace, but what about your business? Many businesses use holiday decorations, whether to promote retail sales or to spread holiday cheer to their employees. When decorating a commercial space, you have to look at things a little differently –considering the safety of your customers and employees.

Here are some tips to help keep your holidays safe and your business protected:


  • Use only noncombustible or flame-resistant decorations.
  • Do not block exit doors or paths of egress.
  • Keep aisles and walkways clear of tripping hazards and be sure to maintain the minimum required hall and doorway width measurements per applicable building and fire codes.
  • Make sure all exit signs, fire extinguishers, manual fire alarm pulls, strobe alarms, and other safety apparatus are kept clear and unobstructed.
  • Keep breakable decorations or ones that may present a choking hazard or electrocution risk away from the reach of children.
  • Keep flammable decorations away from heat sources such as heat registers, radiators, fire places, and wood stoves.
  • Never use open-flame decorations, such as candles, in a commercial building.
  • Check all lights for damaged or frayed cords, broken sockets or bulbs, and loose connections. Replace or repair any damaged strands. Only use lights that have been tested for safety by a nationally-recognized organization, such as UL or ETL/ITSNA.
  • If using outdoor lights, check that they are labeled for outdoor use, and make sure they are securely fastened to the building, walls, trees, or other firm support to prevent damage from wind and severe weather.
  • Keep live Christmas trees well watered to prevent drying, and do not place them near a heat source.

After you are finished putting up your holiday decorations, take a walk around the space and look for potential hazards. If it is an office, retail, or other space where customers will be coming in and out, walk through the accessible areas as if you were a customer. Can you see all of the egress signs? Are there anything potentially dangerous decorations within the reach of children?

Holiday decorations can provide a great feeling of cheer and festiveness to your commercial space for you, your customers, and employees. Make sure you do it safely.

For more info on holiday decoration safety, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Learn more about fire and emergency safety.


Article by: April LaRita Green

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