It’s the time of year when many people work to make their homes "merry and bright" by hanging holiday lighting on their homes. Unfortunately, this festive activity often lands people in the hospital due to falling from ladders.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 13,000 people are treated annually in emergency rooms nationwide during November and December from injuries related to holiday decorations.
"By making some simple, smart and safe decisions, the holidays can be celebrated without injury," says Scottsdale Fire Chief Tom Shannon. The following are some tips from Scottsdale Fire and CPSC to avoid the emergency room this season.
- Always select the correct ladder for the job. The ladders should extend at least 3 feet over the roofline or working surface.
- Place the ladder on level and firm ground. Use leg levelers under the ladder to level uneven or soft ground. Leg levelers are devices available at hardware or home improvement stores.
- Check the maximum load rating to ensure it can take both the weight of the climber and what they are carrying.
- Set up straight, single or extension ladders at about a 75–degree angle.
- Don’t use a metal ladder near power lines or electrical equipment. Stick with wood or fiberglass ladders in these situations and use extra caution. And no ladder should ever touch a live electric wire.
- Check all rung locks and spreader braces on the ladder to make sure they are set.
- Have a helper hold the bottom of the ladder.
- Keep ladders away from a door that can be opened.
- Only allow one person on a ladder at a time.
- Avoid leaning too far to one side while working. Rather, keep the body centered between the rungs of the ladder.
- Do not stand on the top three rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder.
- Stay off of the ladder’s top step and bucket shelf. Labels on ladders warn not to stand on them as well. Don’t try to climb or stand on the rear section of a stepladder.
- Put the ladder away immediately. Never leave a raised ladder unattended.