Time for Hospitals to Issue Holiday Decorations Memo

Scott Wallask, for HealthLeaders Media , September 30, 2009

Key points in decoration policies, as noted by Baker, include the following:

  • Verify all electrical components in decorations have an appropriate tag from a testing laboratory (e.g., Underwriters Laboratories) that is in place on the items in question. Note that some testing approvals don't cover all settings, such as items intended only for household use, Baker says.

  • Don't allow decorations to obstruct exits or access to fire protection equipment (e.g., portable fire extinguishers).

  • Ensure that staff members don't hang decorations from sprinkler heads and pipes, which would violate standards from The Joint Commission and National Fire Protection Association.

  • Establish and enforce a timeframe for decoration displays so that workers know when the items must come down.

Dried wreaths and real Christmas trees are also risks to watch for. "Dried vegetation is combustible," Keyes said.

If a wreath box states the item is flame-resistant, it's OK to hang it, but keep the packaging or documentation in the package as back-up to prove the situation to surveyors, he said.

Scott Wallask is senior managing editor for the Hospital Safety Center. He can be reached at swallask@hcpro.com.

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