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Holiday Traditions: Safe Decorations and Activities

Christmas is a time of deep religious significance and time-honored traditions. It’s also a time of considerable activity within the church – and that requires extra attention to safety.

Christmas Trees

Natural evergreen trees and garland present fire hazards. Fire resistant artificial trees are safer, but still present some hazards.

If you display a live Christmas tree, make sure it’s fresh. Needles of a fresh tree will be supple and bend in half without breaking. Color may not be a good indicator of freshness: Some trees are touched up with paint.

The trunk should be recut two inches above the original cut just before it is placed in the stand. The tree should be placed in a sturdy, stable tree stand with a large water reservoir. The water reservoir should be kept full and checked daily.

A live tree should be placed away from doors, stairways, fire exits, other combustible material, ignition sources, and congested areas. Artificial trees should also be kept away from ignition and heat sources.

Metal trees are not fire hazards, but they do present a shock hazard if illuminated. Should you decide to light a metal tree, use colored floodlights. But, be cautious: Floodlights can become hot. Position them where people will not come in contact with them.

Christmas Lights

Purchase only Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) approved lighting. Outdoor lights must be designed for outdoor use. To avoid confusion, purchase lights that can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Before hanging lights, check them for frayed wires, damaged insulation, loose connections, and broken or cracked sockets. Discard any lights that cannot be safely repaired. Careful handling during unpacking, decorating, and repacking will reduce the chance of damage to the lights.

Do not connect more than three strings of lights together, unless manufacturer instructions specifically state that it is safe to do.

Do not leave Christmas lights on overnight. Use timers or designate a responsible person to turn the lights off.

Use only high quality, heavy duty UL-listed extension cords with grounded outlets. Tape down extension cords if they present a tripping hazard.

Do not overload electrical circuits. Check in with a licensed electrician if you have concerns.

Other Decorations

  • Keep hallways and exit areas free of combustible decorations.
  • Keep small objects out of reach of small children.
  • Set candles firmly in sturdy holders or candelabra that will not tip over.
  • Use dripless candles.
  • Place candles away from draperies and other combustible materials.
  • Do not leave candles unattended. Extinguish them at the end of every service.

Burglary, Theft, Vandalism, and Arson

Holiday crowds and large offerings provide ample opportunity for increased crime. Make a systematic check of the premises after each service or function.

Double-check doors and windows, and watch for missing objects or any objects that may have been unnecessarily rearranged.

Test the burglar alarm system, as well as the fire alarm system, as part of your security check.

Christmas is a time when people come together and celebrate. Keep holiday events fun and safe by following safety protocols.

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