Holiday Safety Guidelines

Decorations, Displays and Christmas Trees

The practice of erecting decorations, displays, and Christmas trees for holidays and official functions within university buildings may involve risk from the standpoint of fire and may endanger the lives of the occupants of such buildings.

In addition to all other factors considered by a unit head making decisions concerning the use, maintenance, and disposal of decorations, displays, or Christmas trees, the following safety rules will apply on UBC’s Okanagan campus:

  • Decorations of any type shall be of such materials that they will not continue to burn or glow after being subjected to the flame of an ordinary match. (The normal use of bulletin boards and posters shall not be subject to this rule.)
  • Electrical devices must bear the CSA approved label and be in good repair.
  • Decorations, displays, and Christmas trees shall be located so as not to obstruct doors, corridors, stairs, landings, or spaces providing normal egress; neither shall they obstruct nor obscure building signs, fire equipment, or building service equipment.
  • Materials used in displays must be adequately secured in place to prevent their falling. Free-standing displays must have adequate stability to prevent their toppling over. No attachment to building structures may be made except those receiving prior approval from deans, directors, chairpersons, or department heads.
  • Whenever an object or material on display is potentially harmful (toxic, flammable, pathogenic, etc.), it should be represented by a harmless substitute; otherwise, adequate means must be exercised to prevent access by, or exposure to, viewers of the display.

The following examples are provided for your guidance in selecting acceptable decorations, displays, and Christmas trees:

Not Acceptable

  • Natural Christmas trees or branches
  • Ordinary untreated crepe paper, tissue paper, or fabrics
  • Light bulbs in contact with decorations
  • Open candles and gas or liquid-fuel lanterns
  • Fast-burning plastic materials
  • Exposed electrical current-carrying parts
  • Sharp corners and edges
  • Extension cords
  • Cotton batting or cotton balls
  • Loose or baled hay, cornstalks, leaves, etc.


  • Flame retardant crepe paper, tissue paper, and fabrics
  • Spot or flood lighting
  • Christmas trees of metal or self-extinguishing plastic
  • Aerosol artificial snow (flocking)
  • CSA-approved small lights on plastic trees

Advice in these matters and interpretation of these guidelines may be obtained from the Facilities Management department by emailing