Safety Tip of the Week: Use extra care when displaying seasonal decorations

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares information about exercising caution when displaying seasonal decorations.

Seasonal decoration safety

Decorating our workspaces and classrooms happens during many different times of the year for many different seasons. Decorations can increase student and staff enthusiasm and seasonal and holiday themes can harness excitement. Decorations must always be set up safe and not create a hazard.

Potential decorating hazards

Even well-intentioned decorations can pose a risk to students, staff and property if used incorrectly. The following potential hazards include:

  • Fires: Too much clutter on classroom or hallway walls and ceilings can spread fires more quickly.
  • Poisoning: Some decorations may be made with toxic substances and could be hazardous if young students were to unwittingly taste them.
  • Falls: Items that are improperly secured may fall and injure students.
  • Trips: A classroom cluttered with decorations has more trip hazards.
  • Cuts: Paper cuts are common from foil and paper decorations, while glass items could break into hazardous shards.

School decoration safety tips

To minimize the risks of classroom decorations but still enjoy a fun, colorful atmosphere, decorations should be put up carefully and safely.

Tips applicable to all types of decorations include:

  • Only use decorations in their intended fashion and read all display instructions before use.
  • Do not block fire alarms, emergency signs or exits with decorations.
  • Confine decorations to suitable spaces such as bulletin boards. Covering windows and ceilings with additional decorations increases the amount of combustible material in the classroom or office and increases fire risks.
  • Never hang decorations from light fixtures, sprinkler heads, or vents.
  • Choose decorations with flame resistant coatings.
  • Fasten flags, posters, papers and other decorations flat to the wall to minimize exposed edges that could cause cuts or increase fire risks.
  • Fasten all items securely for their weight to reduce the risk that they may loosen and fall.
  • When removing decorations, be sure to remove all strings, staples and other materials used to hold the decorations.
  • Store decorations safely and out of reach of students.
  • Do not allow students to climb on desks or other unsafe surfaces to help decorate.