The holidays are the most magical time of year for many people. There is a special energy in the air, and a lot of people reunite with their loved ones to celebrate. Every year, people decorate their homes, putting up colorful lights, beautiful wreaths, trees, and other décor. However, there is a risk that comes with certain decorations. Understanding that risk and how to decorate safely can save a lot of headaches later on.
Staying Safe When Using a Ladder
A lot of people decide to decorate parts of their home that are high up, such as their roof, awnings, and banisters. You’ll need a ladder to hang these decorations. Unfortunately, falls from ladders and roofs account for 34% of injuries that occur while putting up holiday decorations. Here are some tips to stay safe while using a ladder this holiday season:
- Make sure you wear shoes that are sturdy with soles that are slip-resistant. Shoes with leather soles are not slip-resistant.
- Make sure the ladder has been rated to withstand your weight, as well as the weight of anything else you may be taking up with you. Lights and wreaths may seem dainty once they’re set up, but they can be surprisingly heavy.
- Always set up your ladder on an even surface. If there is no even surface, make sure you use leg levelers on it. Leg levelers are a device that create a stable surface.
- Follow the 3points-of-contact rule: Make sure that you always have two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot making contact with the steps or rails at all times.
- Metal ladders conduct electricity, including ladders made of aluminum. Be careful when putting up lights because electrocution can occur if a live wire touches the ladder.
- Never use a ladder to put up decorations (or for any other purpose) if you are intoxicated.
Tips for Using Holiday Lights Safely
Lights are the most popular decoration used during the holidays. They look beautiful and help bring holiday cheer. However, string lights tend to cause more accidents than other lighting because of how they are used. Here are some tips to make sure you use lights safely:
- Turn Them Off: Turn off your holiday lights when you leave and when you go to bed. If a set of lights causes a fire while you are gone, it may damage your home severely. If it happens while you are sleeping, the chances for injury are higher, especially if your lights are on a lower level.
- Check the Rating: Purchase lights that have been tested for safety. The most common brands that test lights are Underwriter’s Laboratory and Intertek. There will be an emblem on the packaging to indicate they have been tested. String lights that are inexpensive may not be tested, so it is best to avoid them.
- No Frays: Many people use holiday decorations for multiple seasons. You must be careful when using older lights. If a set of lights has fraying or other damage to the wires, there is a higher chance of a malfunction that could cause a fire. Check the entire wire on your string lights before use.
- Use the Appropriate Lights: Indoor and outdoor lights are not interchangeable, unless the packaging states that they are. Outdoor lights are made to withstand rain, snow, and cold, but they may be too strong for safe use on an indoor tree. Indoor lights are made to be safe for indoor trees, however, they cannot withstand wet weather or extreme cold.
- Hang Them Properly: Avoid using tools made of metal when hanging your string lights. Metal tools, such as staples, combined with the exposure of live wires in the string lights can lead to a shock and will create a fire hazard.
- Replace Your Bulbs: Don’t keep a set of lights plugged in if any of the bulbs are dead. Dead bulbs interrupt the flow of electricity, and too much voltage can be fed to the remaining live bulbs. Replacement bulbs can be found at most stores during the holiday season.
Maintaining a Safe and Healthy Christmas Tree
You may be considering a tree as part of your holiday decorations. While trees are a tradition that brings a nice ambience to the home, they can pose a danger if not maintained properly. Here are some tips for keeping a safe tree:
- The Fresher the Better: Try to choose a live tree that is fresh. They are less likely to be a fire hazard. Try finding a place that will allow you to cut your own tree or will cut a tree of your choice for you.
- Quench Its Thirst: Make sure your tree stand has a continuous flow of fresh water. Ensuring your tree is hydrated will prevent it from becoming a serious fire hazard and maintain its longevity.
- Keep It Sturdy: Make sure your Christmas tree is kept on a level surface and is held securely in its base. A lit Christmas tree is a major fire hazard when knocked over and can injure someone on the way down.
- Manage Your Lights: When you put lights on your tree, make sure you tape extra cord along the wall to prevent it from becoming a tripping hazard. Tripping over the cord can result in injury and pull the tree to the ground. Do not put more than 3 different string lights into one extension cord. Never tuck extra cord underneath a rug.
- Watch Your Placement: Keep your tree away from any potential heat sources. While it may look pretty near your fireplace, trees dry out as they age. Once they become too dry, they become a fire hazard. One spark from your fireplace could lead to a fire. Keep lit candles a good distance from your tree as well.
- Artificial Trees Need Care: Artificial trees are generally safer and require less care. Make sure you purchase a flame-resistant tree. If you purchase a tree that is pre-lit, make sure it has a safety testing seal.
- Do Not Mix Metal and Electricity: Do not use electric lights with a metal tree. Electric lights can cause metal trees to catch a charge, which can electrocute someone. Battery-powered string lights are much safer for metal trees.
We’re Here to Help
If you have any questions about your liability in the event of a holiday decoration accident, contact Katz Kantor Stonestreet & Buckner, PLLC. With over 80 years of experience litigating personal injury lawsuits, we are equipped to handle any case that may occur due to a holiday decoration related accident on your property. Premises liability law can be confusing and complicated, but our talented team of lawyers can help you with your case and explain every step to you in detail. Contact us today at (304) 713-2014 or via our contact page.