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Unbridled Spirit

SE:#12a 2012 

           December 2012

Welcome to the Special Edition of the Office of Inspector General, Division of Health Care's Holiday Decorating Tips of the Long Term Care Provider Newsletter. 

Please feel free to share this newsletter with anyone you think would benefit.  To continue receiving this newsletter, be sure to join our mailing list by clicking the link to the left of this article.  We look forward to serving you through this communication vehicle.
 Healthcare Facility Holiday Decorating
Door decorated for Christmas
Decorating Rooms With Holiday Flair - & FIRE SAFETY
Inside Decorating
Holiday decorating is a special tradition. But many decorations also create fire hazards. Did you know that December and January are traditionally the months with the highest number of fires?  Because of the significant impact decorations, have on flame spread, federal code and standards contain fairly stringent requirements intended to either inhibit their ignition or control the speed with which flame will travel across their surfaces.  Putting fire safety first assures that the holiday spirit lasts until the holidays pass.
Prevent tragedy by following these tips for fire safe
  • Combustible decorations are required to be fire retardant. Flame resistant material must not exceed 10% of the aggregate area of walls and ceilings.
  • Avoid combustible decorations concentrated in a single area on a wall that will lead to rapid fire growth.
  • Crepe paper and pyroxylin plastic decorations must be documented fire retardant.
  • Hazardous decorations like natural cut trees are prohibited in healthcare facilities. 
  • Artificial Christmas trees must be effectively flame-retardant treated.
  • Place artificial trees away from heat sources such as heat vents, fire places, and sunny windows. 
  • No extension cords
  • Circuit breaker power strips are recommended for a safe electrical power source, Do not connect one power strip to another power strip.
  • No lit candles.
  • Buy lights that are UL listed, then plug them in for 15 minutes before decorating. Check for excessive heat or damaged wiring. 
  • Check your lights for cracked or frayed wires and loose or broken plugs.
  • Avoid over load light strings. Do not connect more than 200  miniature lights or 50 large lights together. Small lights are safer because they produce less heat.  
  • Turn off and unplug lights at night. Grasp the cord by the plug, never pull on the cord.
  • Do not block exits or fire pull stations with decorations or Christmas trees.
  • Do not hang decorations on light fixtures, smoke detectors, or sprinkler heads.  Christmas Tree by Fireplace
  • Decorations on doors should not prevent their function or cover the identifications as the means of egress.
  • Outside Decorating - Remember to be fire safe outside as well as inside.  A fire that starts close to a building can spread to the structure and threaten lives.
  • Do not use indoor lights for outdoor decorating. A label on the box will tell you if they are safe to use outside. 
  • Limit the use of heavy duty extension cords.
  • Be sure extension and light cords do not create a tripping hazard.
  • Turn off and unplug lights at night.
  • Do not block the exit discharge with holiday decorations.
  • Have a policy in place to ensure only approved decorations are used,
Click Here to obtain a printable copy for residents family members.
Violations are cited under K72 - Furnishings and Decorations -  Refer to CMS Survey and Certification Memo 10-18 LSC.
Special Safety Website Links
OIG Christmas Greeting 2  

The Office of Inspector General is Kentucky's regulatory agency for licensing all health care, day care and long-term care facilities and child adoption/child-placing agencies in the commonwealth. 

If you would like more information, visit our website at
If you have an idea for a future article, e-mail Terri Cook at
Unbridled Spirit