Guidelines for Holiday Decorations

Live-Cut Christmas Trees are not permitted in any University facility. 

Artificial Trees 
should be labeled as being constructed of non-combustible materials.

  • Use only Underwriter's laboratories approved cool bulbs in light strings as well as other decorative materials and equipment.
  • Tree decorations must also be fire resistant.  Electric Lights must not be used on metallic trees.

Other Decorations:

  • DO NOT use burning candles.
  • DO NOT place trees or any materials in hallways, stairways, on in front of doors.
  • DO NOT use straw, straw bales, hay, corn fodder or any other type of natural vegetation in any University facility for decorations.
  • DO NOT use cotton batting, flock or paper unless the materials have been treated and listed as fire resistant.
  • DO NOT hang decorations from sprinkler heads or fire detection/alarm devices.
  • DO NOT hang decorations where they would obscure exit signs or emergency lighting.
  • DO NOT place lights or decorations on any handrails or bannisters.
  • USE paper decorations sparingly and do cover more 20% of any door or wall.
  • DO follow University Guidelines for use of extension cords. DO NOT connect multiple extension cords together that will overload an outlet.
  • DO carefully inspect any electrical decorations having pinched, frayed, or exposed metal parts. Dispose all defective electrical equipment immediately. Avoid laying electrical wires on floor surfaces to avoid incidents of electric shock.
  • DO use only non-combustible materials such as foil, glass, and metal when decorating doors and walls.
  • Exterior decorations must be plugged into a outlet designed for exterior use (GFCI).

Christmas Tree Fire Safety At Your Home (Live Christmas trees are not allowed on campus)

Christmas trees are beautiful and can be a festive symbol to the holiday season. Christmas trees, if not properly cared for, may lead to a fire during the holiday season. Following these safety tips will help provide a higher level of safety for you and your family to have a safe and happy holiday experience:

  • When selecting your tree, check for dryness.  If needles are easily removed or falling off, the tree is dry and not safe for use.  
  • Select the location for your Christmas tree carefully, keeping it away from fireplaces, heating vents, wall furnaces, and other heat-producing appliances that may dry out the tree.
  • When you get your tree home, saw at least one inch off the trunk and mount the tree in a stand that holds water. Keep the water level at least 2 inches above the cut. This will help keep the tree fresh and green while reducing the risk of fire.
  • Do not use candles or other flaming devices on your Christmas tree or near other decorations.
  • Do not smoke near your Christmas tree or decorations.
  • Examine tree lights for the Underwriters' Laboratory (UL) label, and check the strings for signs of wear and tear. Discard if old or frayed.
  • Exercise care with extension cords. Use no more than three sets of lights per extension cord. Do not place the cords under rugs or in paths of travel. Avoid connecting two or more extension cords together.
  • When you take down your tree, do not attempt to burn it in your fireplace. Dried trees produce a tremendous amount of heat, can create a chimney fire caused by a rapid build up of creosote, and will put off excessive amounts of flying hot embers that could ignite a fire in your chimney, on your roof or escape from your fireplace into your living space. After use, take the tree to your local recycling center or dispose of it properly. 

Have a happy and safe holiday season!  If you have any questions regarding decorative materials, please contact the University Fire Marshal Michael Long at (502)-852-3473 or