Deck the halls but keep it safe

Office Christmas Party

Oh, the weather outside is frightful. But the fire is so delightful…and imagine how quickly a fire can grow out of control if it is not handled with care. That is why Penn faculty and staff are not supposed to use candles or other decorations with open flames in the workplace.

Dressing up the office for the holidays can be a fun, camaraderie-building experience. But the Division of Public Safety (DPS) would like to remind everyone at Penn to follow some important guidelines when displaying festive cheer.

According to University policy and the Philadelphia Fire Code, cut or live trees are not permitted inside campus buildings.

“There is an obvious fire safety hazard and potential dangers associated with live trees,” says Eugene C. Janda, chief of DPS’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services

Those blinking lights are pretty, but to ensure office safety, DPS officials encourage faculty and staff to unplug decorations at the end of the workday.

Other DPS holiday décor safety tips include not placing decorations where they block exits, and only using lights that are tagged as having been Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listed.

Fireplace Holiday

Be sure to check for frayed wires, loose connections, and broken or cracked sockets on lights and discard any damaged sets, and do not attach electric light strings to metallic trees or decorations, which could create a fire hazard and the possibility of electric shock.

“These safety tips are helpful not only for the University environment, but they also ensure a safe environment at home,” says Maureen S. Rush, vice president of Public Safety.

To help prevent fire tragedies at home, DPS strongly suggests removing all combustible materials away from the area surrounding the fireplace, checking that the flue is open, making sure the chimney has been cleaned properly, keeping a screen in front of the fireplace while the fire is burning, and avoiding liquid fuel starters.

“The winter holiday season is a most joyous time of year,” Janda says. “Take steps to ensure your holiday is not marred by a tragic fire. Practice fire prevention.”

Originally published on December 6, 2012