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Environmental Health & Safety

Medical Center and Patient Care Areas

Holiday and Seasonal Decorations Display Guidelines

When the holiday season nears, signs of festive cheer spread throughout the URMC.  Many love this time of year for its celebratory sparkle, light-hearted mood, and the opportunity to reflect on another year of delivering Medicine of the Highest Order to all of the communities we serve.

If you or your team are planning on decorating your spaces, here are some guidelines to help us all enjoy the season in a way that's safe, inclusive and consistent with the ICARE values at the core of what we do.

You can also download the URMC Guide to Safe & Inclusive Holiday Decorations for quick reference and to share with your team.

If you have any specific questions after reviewing these guidelines, please contact the University Fire Marshal’s Office at 275-3243.


What Locations Are Included?

The following locations are included in these guidelines as part of the University of Rochester Medical Center and patient care areas:

  • School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Research Buildings (KMRB, Del Monte Institute, Saunders Research Institute)
  • Eastman Dental Center /Eastman Institute for Oral Health
  • Helen Wood Hall
  • Ambulatory Care Facility
  • Wilmot Cancer Center
  • Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong
  • Medical Imaging Building 
  • Strong West
  • Sawgrass Surgical Center
  • Strong Memorial Hospital including the Emergency Building and Behavioral Health
  • Flaum Eye Institute, 3000 and 5000 building
  • Image result for Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM)


Fire Safety Guidelines for all Space

What can you decorate with?
  • When decorating with lights, choose LED lights and check the label to confirm they are for indoor use and bear the Underwriter's Laboratories (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) marks.
  • Candles and any other open flames are prohibited.  Electrical candles are an acceptable substitute.
  • With festive greenery, decorate with artificial greenery only.  This should also be labeled as fire resistant or flame retardant and UL listed.
  • Avoid combustible materials including wrapping paper and streamers, dried plant matter like moss, leaves, hay, straw, corn stalks, schucks, cotton batting and flock.  Limited snow spray is allowed.

  • How and where can you decorate?
  • Use power sources appropriately:
  • An outlet is best, but you may use a single power strip, if necessary.  Ensure it is UL 1363 listed and surge protected.
  • Avoid cube taps and flexible/twisty power strips.
  • Can't reach an outlet?  Move closer.  Don't use extension cords or "piggyback" with multiple power strips plugged in to one another.
  • Do not use red outlets.  They are reserved for critical needs on the emergency power circuit.
  • Connect no more than three sets of lights together.
  • On electric lights, look for the label to see if they are identified for indoor use and bear the Underwriters' Laboratories (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) marks.
  • Use electrical tap or cup-type hooks instead of staples, tacks, nails or paper tape.


    Be mindful of other electrical fire hazards:

  • Ensure lights do not come into contact with items such as paper, packages and cloth.
  • Check carefully to verify there are no loose sockets or damaged wires.
  • Turn off all holiday lights before leaving the area and at the end of the workday.


Keep Select Spaces Decoration-Free

  • For your safety and that of your colleagues, patients and visitors, keep decorations out of corridors, aisles and stairways and off windows and doors.
  • Do not hang decorations from or decorate in any way that obstructs exit doors, exit signs, fire and smoke doors, sprinklers, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, pull stations, emergency lights and life safety equipment.

ICARE Guidelines for Public Spaces

  • In public spaces, we share the primary responsibilities of compassion, respect and inclusion, among our other ICARE values.  This involves being mindful and sensitive to others' feelings, treating all individuals fairly and equitably, and avoiding assumptions.  Regardless of intention, decorations directly related to a specific tradition may make patients, guests and others of different traditions feel they don't belong in the space.
  • For that reason, we ask our teams exercise high levels of compassion, respect and inclusion and opt for decorations that celebrate the season in a way that all can join in.
  • Decorations such as lights, snowflakes, bows and ribbons, stars and greenery are great examples of festive themes that all can enjoy.  Find other ideas in our Suggestions for Winter Decorations guide.


Better Together, Ever Better

  • With these fire safety and ICARE guidelines in mind, we all can share in the fun and festivity of the season in a way that's safe and inclusive.
  • When we place a high priority on safety and inclusion, we are prioritizing you.
  • Do you have any addition questions regarding fire safety or our ICARE values in action?  Let's talk!  The Holiday Decorations Committee welcomes your questions.  Reach out to them at


Printable version of these guidelines is available - Medical Center Holiday Decorations Guidelines



Contact EH&S at (585) 275-3241 or e-mail EH&S Questions.

This page last updated 10/17/2022. Disclaimer.