Celebrations in commercial buildings will look quite different in this COVID-19 holiday season. The parties and potlucks of 2019 are a distant memory as virus counts spike. Shows remain dark and restaurants favor takeout service. Businesses remain lightly occupied as employees work from home and shoppers purchase more online. 

“Still, there are precautions that commercial property owners need to take to maintain building and occupant safety during the holidays,” says Brady Chuckel, President – Paul Davis of Southeast Wisconsin. “Festive gatherings may not be on the schedule but we expect more decorations in less supervised and frequented settings.”

Paul Davis has seven helpful recommendations to help commercial property owners boost holiday safety at their properties:

  • Use fire retardant decorations. Choose and install only decorative materials that will not fuel flames. 
  • Place decorations wisely so they don’t impede safety systems: sprinkler systems (never hang anything from sprinkler heads), emergency exits, fire alarm pulls, fire extinguishers, hose cabinets, exit signs and fire doors.
  • Shun open flames like candles, instead choosing cool lighting like LED bulbs and low wattage illumination. Be particularly careful with holiday cooking, even if conducted outdoors. More than a few fires have been sparked when celebrants explosively deep fried a frozen turkey.
  • Don’t overtax electrical circuits and devices. Always follow manufacturer directions for string lights. Don’t overload power strips or outlets.
  • Reduce slip, trip and fall hazards such as lighting cords across walkways. During decoration installation and removal, use ladders carefully. If viewers will visit outdoors to appreciate decorations and displays, illuminate walkways and keep them free of snow and ice.
  • Put lighting and powered decorations on timers to reduce fire hazards. Few people view commercial holiday decorations during the overnight hours. Timers reduce electricity costs, too.
  • Inspect building safety devices during the decoration process. This is an ideal time to verify that smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors have been properly maintained and are operable.  

“This holiday season will likely be one that’s more stressful and fatiguing than usual with fewer of our treasured and familiar routines,” Chuckel concludes. “That makes it harder to pay attention to safety and easier to damage buildings or hurt occupants. With a little effort, commercial building owners really can help make this season more secure and less hazardous.”