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Decorate Safely This Holiday Season

Ladder and electrical safety is key to avoiding an emergency room visit

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Decorate Safely This Holiday Season

Winter holidays are a time for decorating – safe decorating.

At Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), we want you to avoid an emergency room visit by putting safety first when dressing up the inside or outside of your home. Don’t make your holidays memorable for the wrong reasons.

A wise shop teacher once said, “safety is first, last and always.” Those are words to decorate by, for sure.

The ‘rung’ stuff

Whether you’re channeling your inner Clark Griswold or just putting up a few simple decorations, avoid falls and practice good ladder safety. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there is an average of about 160 decorating-related injuries each day during the holiday season, with almost half involving falls. In the 2019 holiday season, about 14,800 people were treated in emergency rooms because of holiday decorating-related injuries.

“Good safety practices are important year-round, but especially during the busy holiday season when our focus can get distracted. Taking the extra time to do things right makes all the difference.” David Burmeister, DO

The American Ladder Institute says ladder safety means:

  • Never climb a ladder in inclement weather.
  • Make sure the ladder is long enough to safely reach your roof or other tall places without stepping on the top two rungs.
  • Never overreach. It’s a leading cause of ladder injuries. Move the ladder closer so you can safely work.
  • Inspect your ladder for defects.
  • Save the alcohol for after you’re done decorating, so your balance and judgment aren’t impaired.
  • Place your ladder on firm, level ground and use leg levelers if needed.
  • Always maintain three points of contact with your hands and feet.

Powerful advice

What you use to decorate your home also should be safe, including electrical items such as light strings and extension cords.

Did you know?

There is an average of about 160 decorating-related injuries each day during the holiday season, with almost half involving falls.

The National Fire Protection Association says more than 800 home fires are caused each year by holiday decorations and about 200 house fires are linked to Christmas trees. The Electrical Safety Foundation International advises:

  • Make sure all extension cords and electrical decorations are marked for proper use and inspected before use.
  • Outdoor electrical lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
  • Be careful if you’re decorating near power lines. Keep yourself and your equipment at least 10 feet from those lines, including the overhead service line that may connect to your home.
  • Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to sleep.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations or electrical devices. They can overheat and cause a fire.
  • Never connect more than three strings of incandescent lights together.
  • Water your Christmas tree daily.
  • Keep all decorations at least three feet from heating equipment or an open flame.
  • Buy electrical decorations from reputable retailers and that are approved by a national recognized testing lab such as Underwriters Laboratories, Intertek or CSA Group.

“Injury prevention is an important part of good health,” says David Burmeister, DO, Chair, Department of Emergency and Hospital Medicine, LVHN. “Good safety practices are important year-round, but especially during the busy holiday season when our focus can get distracted. Taking the extra time to do things right makes all the difference.”

Holiday safety decoration tips from the CPSC

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