Deck Your Halls Without A Fall
Accidents can happen when holiday lights are hung in a hurry. We’ve got some tips to help you string your lights safely.
The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but it’s easy to get caught up in the bustle of festive activity and focus less on safety. With cards to send out, gifts to buy, and decorations to unpack, the days leading up to the holidays fly by. This week, if you find yourself grabbing a ladder with strings of lights in tow, you aren’t alone.
Nothing is as welcoming during the holidays as home bedecked with sparkling lights. However, hanging those bright shiny bulbs can be hazardous—especially in cold, slippery conditions. Every year, it is estimated that between 6,000 and 15,000 of our friends and neighbors across the country find themselves in an emergency room with a holiday-related injury. Many people injure themselves while trying to hang lights on the house or decorate the Christmas tree. Other injuries are fire-related or result from slipping on icy walkways. Cooks have even been known to injure their feet when they drop the frozen holiday turkey. Over the last four years, there’s been an upward trend in holiday accidents.
The majority of holiday injuries are the result of a fall. These patients reflect a specific demographic: most are middle-aged men with back strains, contusions, wrist fractures, and some more serious neck and head injuries. It takes only one fall to do serious damage to bones or joints.
The safest way to decorate for the holidays is to hire a professional to string your lights and deck your halls. However, if you take the do-it-yourself approach, we have some tips to help you hang those festive lights without a fracture along the way.
- Choose the correct ladder. If you are working at a medium height, a step stool or utility ladder is the best choice. If you need to get higher, an extension ladder will provide more stability.
- Maintain your equipment. Check your ladder before you start climbing. Read the warning labels on the ladder. Look for any loose screws, hinges, or damaged rungs. Make sure the rungs and base are clean and mud-free.
- Use your ladder safely. Wear slip-resistant shoes with rubber soles. Always face the ladder when you climb. Stay in the center of the rungs, and grip the sides of the ladder with both hands. Remember that the higher you climb, the less stable the ladder becomes.
- Position the ladder correctly. Place the ladder on level ground, and position it close to your work, so you don’t risk a fall by overreaching or leaning too far to one side.
- Follow the “two person” rule. While one person climbs the ladder, the second person holds the base of the ladder to maintain stability.
Most of all, take a moment to slow down and remember the meaning behind the festivities. A pause for reflection is a great way to slow yourself down to a safer pace, and to enjoy the holiday season. We hope that by following these tips, you’ll be spending your holidays making merry with your family and friends—and not in a doctor’s office or emergency room.
Emerging research warns that high school football athletes aren’t alone in facing concussion risks.
Learn more about the factors that increase your risk for a vertebral compression fracture.
Dr. Lund expands Summit’s services through fellowship training in fracture care.