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K-State Today

December 2, 2015

Reminder for safe holiday decorating

Submitted by Fire Safety

With the upcoming holiday season, it is important to remember a few fire safety regulations, policies and other important information.

The National Fire Protection Agency estimates that Christmas trees, both natural and artificial, were the item first ignited in an estimated 920 reported home structure fires from 2007–2011. These fires caused 24 civilian deaths, 88 civilian injuries and $73.2 million in direct property damage.

During the same period, holiday lights and other decorative lighting with line voltage were involved in an estimated average of 600 home structure fires. These fires caused approximately 36 civilian deaths, 64 civilian injuries and $33.6 million in direct property damage.

K-State has some fire safety rules to keep in mind when decorating for the holiday season. Let's have a safe and happy holiday season by remembering the following fire safety tips:

  • Candles, incense, incense burners and any other item that produce an open flame are not permitted at the university. Flameless candles and electric scent pots are permitted. Scent pots should be turned off when unattended.
  • When decorating walls and doors, you may not cover more than 20 percent of the surface such as with a combustible material like fabric, paper or plastic.
  • Do not place holiday decorations where they may block emergency egress — stairways, corridors, near doors, etc.
  • Use only flame retardant decorations.
  • Avoid using extension cords. If you must use an extension cord, use a heavy gauge, grounded cord and place it in plain view. Make sure the cord does not pose a tripping hazard or pass through windows or doors.  Do not tandem plug — one extension cord into another — extension cords together.
  • Use only FM or UL listed electrical decorations. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets or a maximum of 50 blubs for screw in style light string sets.
  • Fire resistant artificial trees are permitted and preferred. Live trees in university buildings are discouraged and a permit must be obtained from Environmental Health & Safety prior to being used indoors. 
  • Turn off lights when the room is unoccupied.

Also, if using a space heater, it must be kept three feet away from combustibles when in use. It must be plugged directly into an outlet and unplugged when not in use.

If you have any questions about these or any other fire safety tips, please contact us at 785-532-5856 or firesafety@k-state.edu.