Holiday Time Safety Tips 
(modified from UCal San Diego safety tips)

c o n t e n t s

Lighting Up the Holidays

Decorating the workplace adds to the joy of the approaching holiday season. Environmental Health and Safety offers these safety guidelines for decorating.

  • For office decorating use indirect lighting for your decorations whenever possible.
  • Electric lights should not be used on metallic trees.
  • If individual tree lights are to be used, whether they are family heirlooms or new out of the box, examine them carefully for broken or frayed wires or loose connections. If you find any of these conditions, do not attempt to repair it. Discard the lights immediately. The cost of new equipment is small compared to the increased risk of fire from damaged (even if repaired) wiring.
  • Open flames and candles may not be used as decorations in the workplace.
  • Use of extension cords is discouraged; but if they are used, make sure they are in good condition. The extension cord wire should be equal to or larger than the wire you plug into it. If in doubt, use a heavy-duty cord.
  • Never tack or staple an extension cord to the wall or woodwork--it could damage the cord and present a fire hazard. Make sure cords do not dangle from counters and table tops where they can be pulled or tripped over. If your cord lacks safety closures, cover any unused outlets with electrical tape to prevent the chance of a child making contact with a live circuit.
  • Use decorative lights only when you are home and awake. Outside, use only lights that are designed for exterior use.
  • It’s also a good time to check your home’s smoke detector batteries.

Greenery in the Scenery

Office decorations - Note that, regardless of their combustibility, no decorative materials are permitted in exit corridors, nor placed in such a manner as to obstruct view of exit signs, fire alarm pull stations, fire extinguishers, or hose cabinets.

Best locations for decoration include: reception areas, lobbies, foyers, and break rooms. And remember, don’t hang anything from fire sprinklers!

EH&S urges you to choose artificial greenery made of fire retardant materials for office decorating. All decorative materials (including, but not limited to: trees, tree cuttings, hay, straw, curtains, drapes, hangings, etc.) must be either noncombustible (not all artificial trees are!), inherently flame retardant (the label will say so), or have been treated with a flame retardant solution by a licensed treatment vendor.

When using live evergreens at home, select a fresh tree. One freshness test is to lift the cut tree a couple of inches off the ground and bring it down abruptly on the stump end. The outer needles should not fall off in substantial numbers. Inner needles do turn brown and shed naturally each year.

Poisonous decorations

If decorating with live plants or greenery, be aware of which plants are poisonous and should be kept out of the reach of curious children and pets. Some of our other holiday plants are poisonous plant page: Mistletoe, Boston and English Ivy, and Holly berries are among them. Holly shipped for decorating purposes often has the berries removed, sometimes being replaced with artificial berries. Interesting! According to the California Poison Control poinsettias are NOT poisonous as is commonly believed by many people.

If accidental ingestion of a poisonous plant does occur, contact the Poison control at 1-800-POISON-1.

Keeping Your Holiday Cool

At work, save your easiest low-pressured tasks for the end of the day. (return phone calls, read professional literature, preview tomorrow’s schedule, tidy your work area). This allows you to unwind and leave work behind when you go home.

Stretch to relax...Take a deep breath and stretch, creating hand, arm, and chest tension. Then exhale, releasing the tension. Breathe normally on the next inhalation. Repeat until lingering tension is gone. A stress-relief breathing technique: rapidly blow out all the air in your lungs; then slowly breathe in through your nose. Repeat six times.

In a holiday slump? Make time to exercise. After exercise, you’will feel better and feel better about yourself!

Your New Year Resolutions?

Diet Incentive: Carry around a 10- or 20-pound weight for a day to see the impact that it has on your body. Most people regularly carry around at least that much in excess fat.

"It’s easy to quit smoking," said Mark Twain. "I’have done it dozens of times." Try again. On the day you quit, think of something you’d like to buy and estimate its cost in terms of packs of cigarettes. Put aside the money to buy it. Or, decide in the morning how many cigarettes you’ll smoke that day. For every cigarette over your quota, give a dollar to your favorite charity.

Gifts of Safety

  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Bike Helmet
  • Flashlight
  • Smoke Detectors
  • Keyboard Wrist Support
  • Safety Whistle
  • Earthquake Preparedness Kit (for home, office, and car)
  • Ear Plugs and Safety Glasses (to go with powertools)

Have a Safe and Healthy Holiday!