It is that time of year when people are decorating their homes and businesses with festive décor and anticipating upcoming holiday celebrations. Residents and staff in your care home also look forward to festivities and enjoy holiday decorations. It is important for residents, staff and visitors to carry on traditions and to feel a sense of joy and peace we all want this time of year.
The Section for Long-Term Care Regulation (SLCR) wants to help you and your residents have a safe holiday season by sending out the following safety tips, references and regulatory reminders.
Fires or other accidents are not something anyone wants!
Safe decorations include:
- Artificial Christmas trees, and decorations that are non-combustible or flame retardant.
- UL approved decorative lighting (use in supervised areas and turn off when not in use).
- UL approved outdoor lighting.
- Holiday decorations, including evergreen wreaths, ornaments, photos, etc. can be used on resident’s doors, and in hallways, as long as they do not exceed 3 ½” in depth and they are not blocking the entrances or exits.*
*Any combustible decorations hung from doors or walls in corridors may be used with a waiver. Non-rated combustible decorations cannot exceed 20% of the wall space in an exit egress corridor.
SLCR published an article regarding holiday decorating in the winter 2011 edition of the quarterly newsletter. Please visit http://health.mo.gov/seniors/nursinghomes/providerinfo.php.
Although the 2000 Edition National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101® Life Safety Code (LSC) is the official reference, the 2012 Edition contains some less restrictive requirements. Please refer to the CMS memo regarding waivers here: CMS Memo S&C 13-58-LSC 2000 Edition National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101® Life Safety Code (LSC) Waivers, or visit the CMS website at www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/SurveyCertificationGenInfo/Policy-and-Memos-to-States-and-Regions.html.
Prohibited decorations include displays, hangings, and other decorations that block exits, visibility of exits, or fire protection appliances. Never hang decorations from fire sprinkler heads or pipes.
NFPA 101, Section 22.214.171.124: Combustible decorations shall be prohibited in any health care occupancy unless they are flame retardant.
NFPA 101, Section 126.96.36.199: Means of egress shall be continuously maintained free of all obstructions or impediments to full instant use in the case of fire or other emergency.
NFPA 101, Section 188.8.131.52.1: No furnishings, decorations, or other objects shall obstruct exits, access thereto, egress therefrom, or visibility thereof.
Please note, some county or city local ordinances may also require compliance with more restrictive standards, including the International Fire Code (IFC).
- F323: Electrical Safety – Any electrical device, whether or not it needs to be plugged into an electric outlet, can become hazardous to the residents through improper use or improper maintenance. Electrical equipment such as electrical cords can become tripping hazards. Halogen lamps or heat lamps can cause burns or fires if not properly installed away from combustibles in the resident environment. The Life Safety Code prohibits the use of portable electrical space heaters in resident areas.
- Extension cords may be used on a TEMPORARY basis. For information regarding the use of extension cords, please visit the SLCR website at http://health.mo.gov/safety/ltcqa/questionsandanswers.php#no13.
- Can candles be used in nursing homes under supervision, in sprinklered facilities?
CMS Memo S&C-07-07: Nursing Home Culture Change Regulatory Compliance Questions and Answers
Answer: Regarding the request to use candles in sprinklered facilities under staff supervision, National Fire Protection Association data shows candles to be the number one cause of fires in dwellings. Candles cannot be used in resident rooms, but may be used in other locations where they are placed in a substantial candle holder and supervised at all times while they are lighted. Lighted candles are not to be handled by residents due to the risk of fire and burns.
This holiday season, consider using battery-operated flameless candles. They look and smell real! Learn more about candle fire safety from the U.S. Fire Administration at www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/holiday-seasonal/holiday.shtm.
If you have any questions regarding the Life Safety Code, please contact SLCR at 573-526-8524. We wish you a wonderful and safe holiday season.