Holiday Decorations

Many campus offices are decorated each holiday season. Because decorations combine highly combustible materials with additional sources of heat, the potential for fire increases. EH&S would like to remind faculty, students, and staff of the following points, which will help ensure a safe and happy holiday season:

  • Trees and greenery should be artificial;  if natural greenery is used, it should be treated with a flame retardant.
  • Look for U.L. labels on flame-retardant materials.
  • The following rules apply if natural trees are used:
    • The tree should bear a tag stating date of placement in the building, type of flame-retardant treatment used, name of the person who applied the flame retardant, and the name of the person affixing the tag.
    • Prior to setting up a tree, the trunk should have a fresh cut on a diagonal at least 1 inch above the original tree trunk cut.
    • Hot tap water should be used when first filling a support stand, and the stand should always contain water. If a stand becomes dry, the tree should be removed immediately.
    • Trees shall be checked for dryness by the following method: stand in front of a branch, grasp it with reasonably firm pressure and pull your hand toward you, allowing the branch to slip through your grasp. If the needles fall off readily, the tree does not have adequate moisture content, and it should be removed immediately.
    • The tree support device should hold a two-day minimum supply of water, covering the stem with at least 2 inches (see table below).
  • Be sure all electrical items are in good condition and have U.L. labels. Use low-heat output, indoor electrical bulbs and make sure they do not make contact with combustible materials.
  • Candles and other open flames are not allowed. They pose a great fire risk and violate fire safety codes.
  • Decorations and trees must not cover fire extinguishers, exit signs, or exit doors, and must not negate the purpose of these devices. Be sure all corridors and exits are clear and available for routine use.
  • Ground fault interrupters (GFI) are required for exterior light displays.
  • Take decorations down after the holidays and dispose of them properly or store them in a safe place.


Tree Support Stand Water Capacity

Tree Height Minimum Support Stand Water Capacity Typical Daily Water Evaporation Amount
Up to 6.5 ft. ½ gal. ¼ gal.
6.5 to 10 ft. 1 gal. ¼ to ½ gal.
Over 10 ft. 3 gals. ½ to 1½ gals.