The holidays are typically a cheerful time of year and often come with decking the halls and eggnog. Since many of us would rather be at home than working, we often like to decorate our workplace to feel festive all day long. This is especially true for nurses, doctors and other staff in healthcare settings who want to help their patients feel more at home during the holidays.
While it may be our first instinct to decorate our offices, hospitals, or any other facilities for the holidays, it’s also important to ensure decorations aren’t posing a potential threat to the facility or your life safety systems. Ensure your facility is safe this holiday season by following these fire safety tips:
Keep Your Fire Doors Functional
If your facility is beginning to decorate, it’s important to ensure that none of these items are inhibiting your fire doors from functioning properly, especially if there is an emergency. Often times during the holidays, we will see fire doors wrapped in colorful wrapping paper, but NFPA 80 states that any signs placed on a fire door should be informational in nature, and should not exceed 5% of the area of the face of the door. This means that any decorations, lights, signs, ornaments are prohibited from being placed on fire doors, as they are recreational and not informational. Maintain fire door compliance all year long by reading more on our blog on what you can hang on your doors.
Placing decorations on exit doors can also pose a threat during an actual emergency if occupants in the building need to find a means of egress. It can be confusing to know if the door is a fire exit if it has been disguised with decorations. It’s also important to remind facility employees to keep the pathway in front of a fire door or exit clear, free of any holiday trees or large ornaments or wrapped gifts.
Use Fire Retardant Decorations
Fire retardant decorations have become more common in recent years, since fires caused by holiday decorations have become a more common occurrence. This video (http://nfpatoday.blog.nfpa.org/2015/12/live-burn-shows-just-how-quickly-christmas-tree-fires-can-turn-devastating-and-deadly.html) from the NFPA shows just how fast a live tree can burn if it catches fire. This is why many facilities prohibit the use of live trees during the holidays. Most artificial trees are made of fire-resistant material and won’t burn as quickly or easily.
In the case of fire, any decorative item will typically act as fuel and having a lot of these items will intensify the fire. Using fire retardant decorations will help lower the risk of a fire starting and will also keep it from burning as hot. Regardless of fire resistance, ensure any decorations are displayed away from any electrical equipment or heat sources.
Don’t Overload Outlets & Avoid Open Flame
While this may seem like a given in any facility, be cautious of plugging in too many light strings into one outlet. Electrical fires are the second leading cause of fire around the holidays, and can easily spark up in any facility. If your facility is displaying holiday lights, get into the habit of unplugging them before you leave for the day, or in facilities that are running 24/7, give them a break in the afternoon to cool down.
Candles are also a common holiday décor item, but it’s important to avoid these in the facility at all costs. It’s very easy to forget that a candle is lit and walk away. Open flames can easily catch nearby items on fire and holiday decorations will increase this fuel load, causing a bigger and hotter fire. LED candles are a safer alternative to open flame and can give off the same decorative effect.
Maintain Your Life Safety Systems
As always, it’s important that your life safety systems are inspected and compliant. Proper barrier management, along with fire door and fire damper inspections can help contain a fire should one start in the facility. Containing the fire will minimize property damage, ensure safe evacuation of building occupants, and help emergency crews quickly and easily access the area in order to extinguish the fire.
Although we don’t want you to be the scrooge of the facility, it’s important to be aware of the hazards of fire in the facility. Offering your building occupants safe alternatives, like light timers or surge protectors, will keep everyone feeling festive and happy, while also maintaining a safe facility.
The Team at PREVENT Life Safety would like to wish you a happy and safe holiday season. For more information on our barrier management and inspection services, give us a call at 877-392-6074 or request a free quote online.