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’Tis the season when commercial and residential buildings come alive with twinkling lights and holiday decorations. Suddenly, the “everyday” becomes something magical…. or something tragic if electrical and fire safety is not top of mind.

Here are some tips – many from the Codes and Standards of the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) – that every building owner or occupant should heed to have a happy, healthy holiday. Many thanks to our friends at HSB for compiling these valuable tips to keep families and communities safe during this magical time!

Light-up and Decorate Safely

Prevent light string overloads. We know it’s tempting to go overboard; holiday lights bring instant joy. But always follow the manufacturer’s limits for the maximum number of light strings that are connected to prevent string overloads.

Put down the office stapler! Do not affix light strings to the wall using staples or other sharp products not specifically designed for securing wire that could puncture them and damage the wire insulation.

Retire lights within 90 days. Decorative lighting is not designed for continuous, yearlong use. Strands should be used no more than 90 days to avoid short-circuits.

Make these areas off limits. Do not hang holiday decorations – ornaments, banners, lights – from a ceiling where they could obstruct an automatic water sprinkler spray pattern. Attaching anything to a sprinkler runs the very real risk of breaking the element, resulting in an extreme amount of water damage.

Even hanging things from the sprinkler pipe is against fire codes, as pulling or tugging could result in a leak or a break in the pipe connections.

Christmas Tree Safety

Case story: Up in flames

A live holiday tree sparkling with incandescent string lights created a festive holiday atmosphere for residents who entered the lobby of a high-rise condominium complex. Bought fresh with a wood “X” for a stand, it was never transferred to a tree stand that held water.

It quickly began to dry out, especially since the non-LED lights ran hot and were on 24/7.

The sparkle quickly turned to an intense blaze that was felt for a distance. Witnesses said they thought someone had set off a bomb in the lobby because it went up in flames so fast, causing a horrific sound.

Below are some ways to avoid this tragedy.

Consider an alternative to a live tree. Businesses may not be the best place for a live tree, as they may not be attended to as carefully as they should.

Can’t resist the unique charm of a live tree? Keep these tips in mind:

  • Appoint a specific person to water the tree, and keep water in the stand at all times.
  • Avoid placing it near ventilation systems to avoid smoke damage in the entire building should a fire break out.
  • Use only LED string lights designed specifically for trees, not the older, hotter incandescent lights.

Need to take a second look at your business’s coverage?  Reach out to your Badger agent today to ensure your commercial policy is up to date.

Content from this article was provided by Hartford Steam Boiler. © 2023 The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company.
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