Awareness of fire hazards important when decorating

The weeks following the Thanksgiving holiday are notorious for shopping and holiday decorating. While many students living off campus are not restricted from what they can hang, students both on and off campus should be aware of what is safe.

According to a memorandum sent out by Environmental Health and Safety, all decorations should comply with the Indiana Fire Prevention Code. To make sure students and faculty understand this, they have established guidelines.

Christmas lights should be miniature and "UL Listed," and the wiring should be in good condition.

Kevin Kenyon, associate vice president of Environmental Health and Safety, said encountering items that are not UL listed are not recommended Kenyan said that items sold in stores have to be UL listed.

According to the memorandum, when working with wiring, extension cords should also be UL listed and must have a circuit breaker and surge suppressor. They should not be covered or hidden by carpeting or coverings.

According to Kenyon, students are advised to steer away from live Christmas trees. If live trees are used, they must be treated with a flame retardant.

"In an environment that's a multiple dwelling, you have to weigh safety concerns with tradition," Kenyon said.

As for artificial trees, the tree must also be UL listed and made of non-combustible and flame retardant materials. All decorations must be in good condition.

Other decorations should not hide exit signs or paths, smoke detectors, fire alarm pull stations, extinguishers or sprinklers, according to the memorandum.

As usual, candles are not permitted in the dorms, Kenyon said.

Mike Bennett, president of Brayton/Clevenger Hall said as far as the type of decorations are concerned, students may display their choice of decorations including religious symbols, as long as they are not offensive to others.

According to Bennett, students are encouraged to participate in decorating for the holiday, but should be conscious. Bennett said to be careful not to overload outlets. If there seems to be a problem, a resident assistant will have to step in.

As for live trees, Bennett discouraged them saying they presented a few more problems than artificial trees. Along with being a fire hazard, live trees can be a burden to maintain and also cause a mess when carried in and out. Bennett said the dorms were trying to promote an artificial tree that is a convenient and livable size.