The holidays are coming!

Soon, neighbors all across the U.S. will begin putting up their holiday decorations. Let’s talk about the importance of safety when being a do-it-yourself decorator.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, accidents by do-it-yourself decorators resulted in about 240 injuries per day last November and December.

It has been reported that more than 40 percent of decorating injuries involved falls from ladders, roofs, furniture and step stools. For property owners who plan to install their own holiday decorations this season, care and caution are certainly in order. 

To help prevent falls, the American Ladder Institute offers these pointers: 

- Wear sturdy shoes with slip-resistant soles. Leather soles are not slip resistant.
- Use a ladder rated to hold your weight combined with the weight of your tools and decorations and long enough to reach without having to stand on the top rung.
- Set your ladder up on even ground or use leg levelers.
- Follow the “three point-of-contact rule.” Always face the ladder and always have two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder steps, rungs and/or side rails. Never reach so far that the buckle on your belt is outside of the right or left rail of the ladder.
- If your ladder is metal (including aluminum) it will conduct electricity. If a live wire from holiday lights touches a metal ladder, it can cause electrocution.
- Don’t drink and decorate and don’t decorate at night. Alcohol consumption when climbing ladders can lead to injury and death, and decorating at night is dangerous.

When hanging holiday lights, be sure they have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, and check for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.

For safer holiday lighting displays, keep these tips in mind:

- Use only lights with plugs that contain fuses.
- When installing lights outdoors, be sure to use those that have been certified for outdoor use.
- Make sure extension cords are rated for the intended use.
- In older homes, be careful to stay away from power or feeder lines leading from utility poles.
- In order to protect outdoor lights from wind damage, fasten them securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports. Use only insulated staples (not nails or tacks) to hold strings in place, or run strings of lights through hooks. Never pull or tug on the lights.
- To protect against electrical shock, plug lights into circuits protected by ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs.) Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can also be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified, licensed electrician.

Have fun with your own do-it-yourself decorating, but keep these safely precautions in mind to make for a smooth, uneventful decorating experience.

Have a wonderful holiday season!