Holiday Decoration Safety Considerations

PUBLISHED: Nov 28, 2018
Relevant to: All Healthcare Organizations

‘Tis the season! This is the time of year when health care facilities most often decorate common areas and patient units. Making health care environments feel festive can be an important aspect of caring for patients and communities. However, facilities should place safety at the forefront of their decorating plans. At a minimum, health care facilities should:

  • Evaluate all holiday decorations for fire safety.
  • Use tools like newsletters, email, posters to remind staff and residents of facility decorations policies.
  • Use a standardized checklist to ensure staff are evaluating holiday decorations for safety properly.
  • Ensure all decorations are inspected and marked (e.g., place a tag on garland, wreaths) to simplify future inspections.

Organizations will want to remember that both The Joint Commission (TJC) and The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) align with the NFPA’s Life Safety Code, which requires facilities to manage fire risks. DNV GL - HealthCare’s NIAHO standard PE.2 also aligns to the Life Safety Code and specifically expects hospitals to have a process in place for reviewing any decorations for fire safety.

When planning holiday décor, organizations should specifically pay attention to:

  • Paper decorations, crepe paper, dried holiday wreaths, cardboard boxes wrapped like presents, metal and live Christmas trees, garland, and menorahs with open flames
  • Patient/resident’s personal decorations
  • Decorations hung from vents/fans/doorways (should not be allowed)
  • Holiday lights (lights should have the UL label and extension cords should not be used)

Included with today's notice are example policies and procedure regarding the use of holiday decorations in health care facilities. Also included is an easy-to-use checklist that can be distributed to unit managers to simplify the evaluation and assessment of the safety of Holiday decorations.

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