It’s that time of year again, time to get out the giant sleigh and reindeers and all the Christmas lights,
time to climb up on that roof to put them all up.
What you don’t want is time in the emergency room. Nothing can ruin Christmas faster than a broken
leg, a sprained ankle or something even worse. Every year there are over 12,500 injuries reported that
are directly linked to holiday lights and decorations. Taking a few precautions, being aware of the
potential trip falls can go a long way to making sure your holiday decoration work remains a safe one.
Here are a few tips:
1. Be aware of electrocution hazards
• Light Strands –
o Check to make sure there are no cuts, scrapes or frays. Make sure that the sockets
are not damaged in any way. It is very possible that last years’ staples damaged the
strand of lights. Whether indoors or out, don’t take chances with damaged strands
of lights. Toss them out and get new ones.
o Make sure the lights are UL approved. Make sure that any lights that you use
outside have been rated for outdoor use. Indoor lights should never be used
outside, no matter how well shielded you think the eaves are.
o When removing lights, do not tug on them or try to pull them down. Take them
down the way that you put them up. Take care you don’t damage the strand which
can then become an electric hazard next year. Even worse, it can get caught on any
number of things (gutters, shutters or worse, power lines) which can then cause a
lot of damage if they are pulled on.
• Power Lines – Be aware of where the feeder lines and power lines are for your home and
stay away from them. The danger of electrocution is extremely high.
• Extension Cords – Again, make sure that they are in good condition before using them.
Never put more than three standard strands of lights on one cord and make sure that the
rating for the extension cord is adequate.
• Christmas tree – If you have a metallic tree, do not use electric lights. Any electrical problem
can be transferred over the tree and cause electrocution.
• Clips – Avoid any metal (staples, nails, tacks). Use insulated clips.
2. Fall Hazards
• Ladders – Make sure you use a good, solid ladder and make sure that the base of the ladder
is properly set before climbing. Have another person hold the ladder for you.
• Reaching – Do not lean further than you should on the ladder. It is much better to come
down the ladder and move it than to try to reach for that final clip and end up on the
ground, flat on your back with a broken spine.
• Roofs – Avoid climbing up onto the roof if possible. Do not hang lights by reaching from the
roof to the eaves, it is much too easy to slip and fall off the roof.
3. Christmas Trees
• Make sure the tree is fresh and green. Most fires are started because of a dried tree. You
can tell if the tree is green because needles don’t fall off in your hand when you tug lightly
on them; the needles bend rather than break.
• Make sure you keep the tree fresh and green. Cut two inches off the bottom of the tree
before you put it in the stand; this removes the sealed stub and allows the tree to absorb
water. Make sure that the stand has plenty of room for water.
• Make sure that you place the tree away from fireplaces and heaters. Besides the fire hazard,
it will also keep the tree fresh longer; heat sources dry out the tree faster.
• Make sure that the tree is secured and stable. Do not place it in an area where it might get
in the way of traffic. Do not place it so that it blocks exits; if the tree should catch fire you
certainly don’t want a fireball right in the way of the exit you would need to escape. Make
sure that the tree is solidly mounted and stable; use guy‐wires if necessary to add stability.
Remember that pets and children can easily pull the tree down on top of them. Don’t just
hope for the best.
• When purchasing an artificial tree, make certain that it is “Fire Resistant”. No matter how
great a deal that used Christmas tree is at the thrift store, it isn’t worth it if you are
essentially bringing a potential fire bomb into your home.
4. Christmas and Children
• If you have small children in the house, you have a few extra precautions to take.
• Make sure that smaller ornaments that might pose a choking hazard are out of reach and
securely fastened to the tree so that they don’t fall off and pose of problem.
• Be aware of the danger of candles; extra paper material, ribbon, wrapping paper, trimmings,
etc… add to the threat this time of year. Wrapping paper tends to get tossed about and it
doesn’t take much for a corner to catch fire.
• Avoid sharp or breakable decorations, the danger they pose to small children is just too
• Clean up soon and often. Whether it is the ribbons and wrappings from the presents or the
“stuff” from a holiday party, make sure that nothing is left lying around that might become
of hazard to children; plastic bags, for example, can suffocate children; small items can
Taking time to be aware and prepare adequately can make sure that this Christmas season continues to
be a safe one for everyone.
Compliments of National Safety.