Uncategorized December 3, 2014

Safe Holiday Decorating

Watch out before you string those lights

It's holiday time, and that means Rudolph will be emerging from storage for his annual jaunt on your gable. But before planting that plastic sleigh and reindeer on the roof, put some thought into safety.

December's calendar is booked solid with holidays – Kwanzaa, winter solstice, Hanukkah and Christmas – why not string some lights along the eaves of the house? After all, nothing says "Happy Holidays" quite like a festive string of lighted plastic chili peppers.
Don't become a holiday statistic
But before pulling out a ladder or wrapping a little more electrical tape around last year's extension cord, it would be a good idea to plan for safety. Taking a fall is the leading cause of home fatalities, according to the National Safety Council. Don't become an NSC statistic this holiday season – keep a few safety tips in mind while decorating.
Six tips for safety
  • Inspect all decorating gear before ascending. Ladders should be in good shape, with any moving parts (pulleys, ropes) in "like new" working condition. Rungs should be tight and sound. Repairing a ladder is a waste – toss it instead and get a new one – it's a lot cheaper than a body cast. Extension cords shouldn't have cuts or cracks in their jacket or plugs – refurbish or replace damaged cords. Light strings should be tested before putting them up. Carry a tool pouch filled with everything you need before climbing topside.  


  • Wait until the weekend. Shorter winter days leave less light after work for installing decorations. Schedule your decorating project for a Saturday or Sunday when there's ample daylight to work by.
  • Match the tools to the job. Remember that aluminum ladders conduct electricity and are therefore potentially hazardous. Choose a wooden or fiberglass ladder instead, both of which are non-conductive when dry. Try using a staple gun, rather than a hammer, for attaching cord to the eaves or fascia. The gun is easier to use with one hand, and its action is less likely to cause a loss of balance while high off the ground.
  • Think safety when working with outdoor lights, especially in wintry conditions. Follow the manufacturer's directions when setting up lights or using a ladder. Since even low-wattage lights can still be an electrical hazard when strung outdoors, plug them into a weather-proof, GFCI outlet. For an extension ladder (for use on second-story heights), install a "stand-off bar" (often available as an option) to increase stability at the top of the ladder.
  • Get help with bigger jobs. There's nothing wrong with asking for someone to hold the ladder base secure while you are climbing, or unraveling and handing you the cord while you secure it in place. Think about trading off help with a neighbor, giving each other a hand with the annual decorating chores.
  • Forget the ladder if you want to make your decorations fall-proof. Instead of scaling your siding, consider creative ways of dressing up the holiday season from ground level. Luminarias, yard decorations, lights strung along the ground floor or in accessible locations are all good options.

    And whatever decorations you choose, please don't leave them up past Memorial Day. Copyright © by Move, Inc.