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Following strict guidelines helps to ensure safety during holidays

The holidays mean MUSC staff will begin to decorate work areas to create a festive atmosphere. The Occupational Safety and Health Fire and Life Safety Programs is providing tips for a safe work environment.

There are requirements for decorations within the hospital, university and all support facilities. Because of the potential life safety hazards of the hospitals, there are strict guidelines for the use and placement of decorations and natural cut vegetation.

This information is distributed so staff members have time to properly plan, purchase and place decorations to comply with the International Fire Codes, National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code 10 and MUSC policy.

Employees are asked to follow this policy and understand that it will be enforced to minimize fire hazards.
All personnel should review the guidelines prior to purchasing materials and decorating for seasonal holidays:
  • Decorations shall not be placed in any area that will obscure an exit or interfere with the path of evacuation. Trees must not be located in corridors or near any source of ignition.
  • Candles or other open flame decorations are not allowed.
  • Decorations must not be attached to, or obstruct, ceiling tiles, sprinkler heads, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers or exit signs.
  • Corridor doors must not be wrapped with any material or have excessive decorations attached.
  • Extension cords are prohibited in MUSC facilities and health care occupancies. An independent laboratory tested and approved (UL) surge protector may be allowed (maximum 6 feet) in constantly monitored areas. Surge protectors shall not be connected in series.
  • Plug-in air fresheners and scents are prohibited.
  • Combustible decorations including, but not limited to, paper cutouts, plastic wall hangings, banners, ornaments and posters are prohibited in health care areas unless of such limited size or quantity that will not contribute to the development or spread of fire. All combustible ornaments and decorations must be treated with a flame retardant. Retardants may deteriorate during storage and handling; therefore, decorations must be retreated at least every five years with documented proof immediately available. Maintain all documentation and the actual container as evidence of the treatment of any decoration.
Natural cut vegetation, decorations
  • Natural cut decorations are prohibited; fire retardant artificial trees that are FM or UL listed and used in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions may be authorized on a case-by-case basis.
  • Natural cut trees, wreaths and garlands will be allowed only in facilities other than health care occupancies if treated with approved flame retardants.
  • Water levels for real trees must be checked and maintained on a regular basis. Vegetation that has dried out shall be immediately removed from the facility. It cannot be placed in or obstruct any means of escape.
Guidelines for any lighting used
  • Use only UL tested and approved cool lamp variety bulbs (manufacturers tag must be attached).
  • Use only in constantly monitored areas.
  • Attach only to non-metallic, non-combustible surfaces.
  • Do not use in patient rooms or areas where oxygen is stored or in use.
  • Electrical connections must be free of splices and checked routinely for damage. If any damage is found, remove the item immediately.
  • Lighting shall be used only on artificial vegetation in the health care facilities.
Guidelines and safety information for turkey fryers

•  MUSC Fire and Life Safety, OSHP, discourages outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers (which immerse the turkey in hot oil) on hospital and university grounds.
•  The National Fire Prevention Association discourages use because of a documented significant danger of fire. NFPA urges fried turkeys be purchased from professional establishments, such as grocery stores or specialty food retailers.
•   The turkey fryers currently on the market are not Underwriters Laboratory approved, and thus have failed or cannot meet the required safety standards.
•   The use of turkey fryers by consumers may lead to devastating injuries and destruction of property. The oil is heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or more, and its vapors can ignite.
•   With commercial fryers, temperature control units are installed to shut off fuel if the cooking oil ignites. Suppression systems standard on commercial fryers extinguish any flames.
•   Most commonly in use of non-commercial turkey fryers, fire occurs when the frozen or semi-frozen turkey is lowered into the oil. The water in the turkey causes the oil to expand and overflow the cooker, and the dripping oil is ignited when it reaches the open flame.

This policy was established to prevent fire, injuries and loss of life. Any decoration not in compliance with the above guidelines must be removed. Any questions may be directed to Fire and Life Safety, Occupational Safety and Health Programs by calling 792-3604.

Friday, Dec. 3, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.