Every year on the weekend after Thanksgiving, churches all across the country decorate for Christmas. Trees, garlands, poinsettias, and plenty of twinkling lights make your place of worship warm and festive. While decorating for the holidays can bring a host of simple pleasures to you and your congregation, it can also carry additional risks. We care about our Georgia church insurance clients and want to make sure you’re able to safely enjoy this meaningful season. So as you light candles, string lights, and hang holly, keep these tips in mind.
Candles are the most obvious safety hazard, but they’re an essential Christmas decoration for most churches and are usually distributed during candlelight services. Unfortunately, they can also be a major fire hazard. We encourage churches to seek out safer alternatives, such as glow sticks or battery powered candles. However, we realize these just aren’t the same as the traditional candles, so if you choose to use them, follow these safety tips:
- Have fire extinguishers ready and have designated people standing by, ready to react.
- Direct your congregation regarding the safe lighting, extinguishing, and disposal of candles.
- Don’t use candles that drip.
- Don’t place candles near flammable objects.
- Always use candles on flat surfaces and in non-flammable holders.
There’s certainly nothing like a real Christmas tree, but to reduce the fire hazard potential, we strongly encourage churches to purchase artificial trees for their church decorating. If you do choose to display real Christmas trees, first check that your local fire code allows it. Remember to follow these safety measures:
- Use the freshest trees you can find. Needles should be flexible and difficult to pull from the branches and the trunk should be sticky to the touch.
- Keep your tree well watered.
- Make sure your ornaments and trimming are flame resistant.
- Don’t place trees in places where they’ll obstruct doorways and fire exits.
- Keep your trees a minimum of three feet away from heat sources.
- Remove the tree as soon as the Christmas season is over.
Just as with Christmas trees, we recommend using artificial greenery to deck your church halls. When using fresh greenery, make sure it’s hydrated and well away rom heat sources (including sunlight). Check it every few days and remove dried and dying portions.
Without a doubt, lights are the quintessential Christmas decoration. Keep this information in mind when hanging lights around your facility.
- Use UL approved light.
- Use lights that are designed specifically for your needed use (indoor or outdoor).
- Check strands for fraying wiring or broken bulbs, and throw out strands that aren’t in safe condition.
- Unplug lights at night.
- Use no more than three standard strands of lights with a single extension cord.
- Don’t use electric lights on metal objects.
As you beautify your place of worship, reduce the possibility of accidents by decorating safely. From your Georgia church insurance company, have a joyful holiday season!