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Planning Family Get-Togethers for the Holidays? Read This!

- December 1, 2017 by Mike Pettit (View all posts by Mike)

Holiday Safety

Holiday safety should be everyone’s priority, and not just while driving on the road to reach or return from our destinations – it should also include pre-holiday preparations and post-holiday activities.

Estimates from the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission indicate approximately 15,000 injuries resulting in emergency room visits were experienced in 2012. Injuries from falls represented approximately 34% of the emergency room visits, with lacerations and back strains representing 11% and 10%, respectively.

Safe Placement and Removal of Decorations

To reduce the likelihood of a holiday injury, what precautions should be made? In addition to not decorating while in a state of DUI (Decorating Under the Influence), there are many ways to decrease the likelihood of being on the unfortunate side of a statistic. I’ve included a few below:

  • In addition to inspecting the light strands for electrical integrity and broken bulbs prior to putting them up for the holidays, we should always wear the appropriate forms of personal protective equipment such as cut-resistant gloves and safety glasses.
  • Now, let’s review preventing falls as a result of working on roofs and ladders. We have all probably seen folks leaning over the edge of their roof while stringing Christmas lights. This is very dangerous, as the person could slip or lean over too far causing a catastrophic fall.
  • What about ladders? Can we string lights and other decorations safely while using a ladder? Tough question, especially considering one of the primary rules of ladder safety is the need to maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times (a tough tasks considering both hands are often needed while stringing lights).
  • When mounting permanent hooks or other devices along the edge of the roof, you should pre-drill the holes slightly smaller than the hooks – this will reduce the amount of physical effort required, as well as reduce the overall amount of time needing to be on a ladder.
  • When using temporary hooks, you need to make sure the ones on the ends do not slide or move, which will cause the strand of lights to bow downward, making it difficult and unsafe to obtain them while on the ladder.
  • Once the hooks have been installed, one idea is to tie a string to one end of the strand of lights, and then tie the other end of the string to the inside, upper section of the ladder prior to placing it against the side of your house – this will not only eliminate the need for you to lean down or over to obtain the strand of lights from your helper, but will also position the strand between the ladder and the house.
  • The above should be repeated on the opposite end of the strand, and then in the middle. As you work from one side to another, only secure the lights within the vertical frame of the ladder (arms will be “wrapped” around the ladder) – do not lean or overreach, as this will significantly increase the potential for a fall. In the event the strand bows, you can always go to the far end to tighten and lift them back up to a safe height.
  • When taking down the lights, the same safe ladder techniques should be incorporated – take your time and do not try to “swing” the lights off of the hooks, as this may not only result in damaging the cords and bulbs, but may result in your being “pulled” off of the ladder.
  • Once on the ground, you should again inspect the light strands for electrical integrity and broken bulbs. If determined to be safe, they can be stored away until next year. If you recognize damaged cords, it is best to discard the strand of lights, replacement strands are often sold at significantly-reduced prices at the end of the season.
  • Preparing for the Holidays is an activity enjoyed by many families, one which creates considerable joy and happiness. Please be careful when putting up and taking down the decorations, as experiencing an injury could have a negative impact on the season.

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