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Decorate for the Holidays Safely

December 12, 2022

Home Maintenance and Tips

Decorate for the Holidays Safely

The holidays are coming fast. Soon, neighbors across the U.S. will begin seeing holiday decorations going up. With that in mind, it's important to prioritize the safety of do-it-yourself decorators.

Kathleen Neave, a Christmas Decor pro from Stamford, Conn., points out that do-it-yourself decorating-related accidents resulted in about 240 injuries per day last November and December, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

For property owners who plan to install their own holiday décor this season, Neave reminds us that more than 40 percent of decorating injuries involved falls from ladders, roofs, furniture, and step stools.

To help prevent falls, the American Ladder Institute (ALI) offers these pointers:
- Wear sturdy shoes with slip-resistant soles. Leather soles are not slip-resistant.
- Use a ladder rated to hold your weight combined with the weight of your tools and decorations and long enough to reach without having to stand on the top rung.
- Set your ladder up on even ground or use leg levelers.
- Follow the "three point-of-contact rule." Always face the ladder and always have two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder steps, rungs, and/or side rails. Never reach so far that the buckle on your belt is outside of the right or left rail of the ladder.
- If your ladder is metal (including aluminum) it will conduct electricity. If a live wire from holiday lights touches a metal ladder, it can cause electrocution.
- Don't drink and decorate and don't decorate at night. Alcohol consumption when climbing ladders can lead to injury and death, and decorating at night is dangerous.

Neave says it's not enough to just ensure holiday lights have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory - and to check for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.

For safer holiday lighting displays, Neave says DIY decorators should keep these CPSC tips in mind:
- Use only lights that have plugs containing fuses.
- Check to see that outdoor lights have been certified for outdoor use.
- Make sure extension cords are rated for the intended use.
- Stay away from power or feeder lines leading from utility poles into older homes.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect them from wind damage. Use only insulated staples (not nails or tacks) to hold strings in place, or run strings of lights through hooks. Never pull or tug on lights.
- Plug lights into circuits protected by ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to protect against electric shock. Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can also be installed permanently on household circuits by a qualified electrician.

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