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Three Important Safety Tips for Hanging Outdoor Christmas Lights

christmas-decorDisplays of Christmas and holiday lights range from a few twinkling strands scattered in the bushes to full-house setups complete with computer-controlled animations and synchronized music. They help put people in the holiday spirit and spread a bit of joy. Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, they also send up to 15,000 people to the hospital every year.

More than one-third of these injuries come from falling off the roof or high ladders. In the quest for the greatest neighborhood display, people push themselves beyond their comfort zones and abilities to climb high in the air with tangled strands of lights and a pocket full of clips.

If a broken leg, a strained back, or cuts and bruises are not on the top of your Christmas wishlist, follow these three important safety tips for hanging outdoor Christmas lights this year.

1 – Be Smart and Be Sober

Although family and friends may want to share in the fun of decorating the house for the holidays, stringing lights in tall trees or on the eaves of the house should not be turned into a party. Never drink before getting on a ladder or climbing out a window to decorate.

Alcohol is not the only thing that can lower your ability to assess risk. Know your limitations and stay within them. If you have any mobility limitations or no head for heights, stay off the roof and the ladder.

2 – Always Follow Ladder Safety Rules

There is a lot more to climbing up the side of your house or into a tall tree than leaning the ladder against something horizontal and heading up. First, check the ladder’s weight limit to make sure it will hold you and your bundle of Christmas lights and tools securely. Be aware of where the highest safe step is, and do not climb beyond it.

The ladder’s feet must be on solid and stable ground. The upper part of the ladder must rest securely on a flat surface. Always have someone at the bottom holding the ladder and spotting you as you climb.

3 – Simply Stay Off Your Roof

As long as proper care is taken, climbing up the ladder is considerably safer than walking around on a roof or leaning over the side to hook holiday lights to the eaves or gutter. There is a very good reason why professional roofers receive a lot of training. Walking and maneuvering on a sloped roof can be quite a challenge. This is only exacerbated by debris, moss or lichen, loose or deteriorated shingles, or a thin skim of moisture or frost. One misstep can lead to you spending Christmas in a hospital room instead of inside enjoying the holiday with your family.

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