Top Tips on How to Mitigate Risks From Our Insurance Experts
Seasonal decorations at special events and festivals help create a magical atmosphere during the holidays. From giant snowmen and motion sensor reindeer to elaborate lighting displays, these decorations can bring joy to people of all ages.
However, it is important to remember holiday lights and decorations can also pose a safety risk. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an average of 790 fires each year start with holiday displays.
Read along as our experts at McGowan Allied Specialty Insurance share top safety tips for holiday festivals and helpful guidance on how to choose the best insurance for your business.
Holiday Festival Lighting Safety Tips
Festival lights are a great way to create a picture-perfect atmosphere, but they can also pose a safety hazard.
Here are some lighting safety tips to help you mitigate risks this season:
- All lighting for holiday festivals should be tested for UL/ANSI 588, which is a safety standard for holiday lighting. This standard ensures the lights have been tested for safety and meet certain performance requirements.
- Choose LED lights designed for outdoor use. These lights will be more durable and resistant to the elements.
- Do not pull or tug on a light string. This causes stress to internal wiring and external connections, leading to wire fraying, plug damage, and fire hazards.
- Before you put up your holiday lights, inspect them carefully for any damage. If you see any broken or frayed wires, do not use the lights.
- When you are not using your holiday lights, turn them off. This will help to prevent electrical fires.
- Do not place your holiday lights near flammable materials, such as fabrics, trees or furniture.
- Children should be supervised when they are around holiday lights. Make sure they do not touch the lights or try to remove them from the sockets.
- Do not throw them in the trash, as they could start a fire. Instead, take them to a recycling center or hazardous waste disposal facility.
- Some fire codes may have specific requirements for holiday lighting, such as the maximum wattage per string or the distance between lights.
If you are planning to use holiday lights, it is important to consider the risks involved and to purchase the appropriate insurance coverage.
Seasonal Decorating Best Practices
From fire hazards to tripping hazards, there are a variety of reasons it is so important to have best safety practices when decorating for a holiday festival at an amusement park or family entertainment center.
Read these best practices for seasonal decorating, so you can keep your business, staff and guests safe throughout the holidays:
- Make sure you know where you will place your lights and decorations before you start. This will help you to avoid tripping hazards and other potential problems.
- If there is a chance of rain or wind, make sure you take steps to secure your decorations. This will help to prevent them from blowing away or getting damaged.
- When using a ladder, always have three points of contact with the ladder at all times, meaning that two of your feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot, should be in contact with the ladder.
- Test displays before installing them to make sure breakers do not trip.
- Never place extension cords or light strings across walkways without an appropriate device to prevent tripping, such as a cable trough.
- Avoid electric shock by not hanging electric displays and lights on metal fixtures, including ornamental trees.
- Hang indoor and outdoor lights in the appropriate environments.
- Ensure outdoor outlets are GFCI-protected (ground fault circuit interrupter). GFCI outlets stop power to the entire circuit in the event of a surge or overload.
- When it is time to take down the decorations, properly pack and store all reusable decorations in a safe, dry space. Use plastic boxes or bags for storage over cardboard which can rot over time or be susceptible to rodent or insect nests.
Unlike standard business insurance policies, special event insurance can cover risks like holiday lighting and displays, professional liability, and event cancellation. It gives you peace of mind knowing you are protected in the event of an unexpected event.
This is especially important for businesses or individuals who are involved in activities that are high-risk, such as amusement parks, zoos and family entertainment centers.
How to Select Qualified Contractors
Working with certified contractors is another way to ensure the safety of the public and comprehensive insurance.
Contractors can help with many of the issues involved with holiday decorations, such as installation and electricity management. When selecting a qualified contractor to install holiday displays, there are several important factors to keep in mind:
- Get multiple quotes to help you compare prices and services.
- Choose a contractor who has experience working with festivals to ensure they are familiar with the unique challenges of working in a public setting.
- Make sure the contractor has the necessary permits and licenses.
- Ask for proof of experience and qualifications.
- Make sure the contractor is insured to protect you in case something goes wrong.
- Request a written risk assessment of the job.
- Inquire about safety documentation, such as proof equipment has been regularly tested.
- Get everything in writing including the scope of work, price and timeline.
If a contractor is unwilling to provide quotes, references and proof of licenses, permits and insurance, move on and find someone else. Safety is the top priority for any public event, and contractors who cut corners will only cause headaches down the road.
Securing proper documentation will also serve as evidence of due diligence for any holiday insurance you purchase and make it easier to file a claim, should the worst happen.
Light Up Your Festival with Premier Insurance and Ultimate Peace of Mind
McGowan Allied Specialty Insurance is the nation’s premier provider of specialty insurance. We have been providing coverage for the amusement and entertainment industry for more than 40 years, know what exactly it takes to protect your event.
Our team will expertly design a policy tailored to your unique needs with insurance solutions for all owners and operators, including general and excess liability insurance, workers’ compensation, and property insurance.