With autumn in full swing, healthcare facilities across the country may be decorating for fall with festive Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations. While celebrating the leaves changing with upbeat decor can bring life to any facility, it’s important that safety practices are not compromised in this process. Maintaining compliance can be a challenge with the rules and regulations that healthcare facilities are required to uphold. It’s crucial that facilities management professionals are aware of these policies in order to properly abide by them and ensure nothing is a risk to patients, visitors and staff.
Some decorations you wouldn’t think twice about putting up in your homes aren’t a fit for a healthcare environment. With Halloween specifically, it’s important not to frighten guests with spooky decorations, but rather bring a lighthearted and fun addition to the atmosphere. Harvest decorations such as pumpkins, floral arrangements and garlands can be a great neutral way to bring the harvest spirit to a healing space.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
provides safety tips for Halloween decorations and trick-or-treating that prevent fire hazards, including avoiding decor that catches fire easily such as dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper. Healthcare facilities are required to comply with the 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code and NPFA’s 2012
edition of the Health Care Facilities Code, which states that decor may not exceed 30% of the wall, ceiling and doors in any room that is not protected by an approved, supervised automatic sprinkler system.
Not only is it imperative that facilities create a safe environment with the physical decorations, but they also must encourage everyone to celebrate in a safe way. Trick-or-treating and Halloween costumes can provide a variety of new risks that must be considered, especially as facilities continue to be affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
While trick-or-treating this year will be limited with the impact of COVID-19, many facilities are still celebrating this tradition as safely as possible. With some costumes coming with masks, some may think foregoing cloth or surgical masks is acceptable for this occasion. However, a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth or surgical mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face, according to CDC guidelines. Omitting costume masks in favor of a regular mask is often the safest option if unsure about the protection a costume offers. Maintaining six feet of social distancing and washing hands frequently while distributing or collecting candy is also best practice.
For those that don’t have the option to go trick-or-treating, there are many other low-risk activities to participate in this fall season. Carving pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, participating in a virtual Halloween costume contest or having a Halloween themed movie night are just a few ways to get in the spirit. Healthcare facilities managers must work to promote these safe alternatives in an effort to minimize the spread of viruses.
At Medxcel, our associates go above and beyond all year ‘round to pinpoint hazards that could impact safety and compliance standards. It’s the duty of our safety officers to walk through the halls of all of our healthcare facilities - virtually or in person - to identify decorations that may be a safety violation and address them. Celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving should be fun, and our teams are here to make sure of that by preventing any unexpected disasters.
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