Christmas Lights

Monday, November 22, 2021 6:32 AM

It’s that time of year again.  The time in which people are getting ready for Christmas and starting to decorate their homes.  And the outdoor Christmas lights are going up.  Just look up and down your street and I bet that that there are at least 2 -3 people who have already deocrated the outside of their homes!

It is intersting, though, that putting up outdoor Chirstmas lights often results in accidents.  For some it is the only time during the year that they use a ladder and for many they don't know the basics of ladder safety.  And for many people, it has to be cold outside, snowy, and icy before they even consider putting up Christmas lights and so the weather and environment plays a factor in the execution of the task.

I think most people know someone who has had an accident, incident, or story about putting up Christmas lights or have been involved in one themselves.  I have tested this hypothesis and have found that in a group of at least 30 people (of primarily men) that likely 1 or 2 people can attest to the dangers of putting up Christmas lights.  The impacts have included falling off ladders, being stranded on roofs because the ladder fell over, frost bite, and stapled fingers.  I also know people who missed 9 months of work with broken bones after falling off a ladder.

So what are some tips for being safe when putting up outdoor Christmas lights:

  • Use the buddy system.  Try to avoid making this a solo activity.  It will go a little faster with help and there is someone who can help steady the ladder as well.
  • Pick a nice day to do this work.  Default to putting them up a little earlier in the season to get good weather (it doesn’t mean you have to turn them on!).
  • Before using a ladder, inspect it.  Make sure that it is in good shape, is not damaged, and is rated to support the weight.
  • When using a ladder follow the 4 to 1 (or 75 degree) rule.  This means for every 4 feet of vertical height, the base of the ladder needs to be moved out from the wall by 1 foot.
  • Place the ladder on level ground or ensure some appropriate leveling devices are used.
  • Invest in ladders that have moveable feet to help ensure good ground contact.
  • Ensure the ladder extends 2’ - 3’ above the top contact point.
  • Use another person to help steady the ladder.
  • Work within the width of the ladder, do not overreach outside the ladder or place lateral strain on the ladder.

Following a few simple guidelines when using a ladder to put up the outdoor Christmas lights will significantly reduce your risk and increase the likelihood that you can enjoy the Christmas holidays. 

Good luck and I hoep that there are still enough nice days left that before Christmas that you can put these tips to use.