Homeowners all over the country enjoy decorating the exteriors of their homes with festive lights during the holiday season. It’s essential to approach this process safely; the potential risks extend far beyond winding up dangling from your roof tangled in a mess of lights. Here are a few tips to keep you injury free and your house decorated for the season.
Common Holiday Decorating Injuries
According to a study performed by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, decoration-related injuries are the leading cause of holiday injuries throughout the United States each year, accounting for roughly one third of all holiday injuries each year. Some of these injuries occurred while hanging decorations like exterior holiday lights. Others were from electric shocks from mishandling wired decorations and lacerations from broken light bulbs and other fixtures. Lacerations, sprains, bone fractures, contusions, and muscle strains are some of the most common decoration-related injuries suffered by Americans each year.
While the holiday season is meant to be enjoyable, it is essential to use good judgment and keep safety in mind during all holiday activities, especially hanging decorations. While placing your holiday decorations inside can be potentially hazardous, most holiday season injuries from decorating occur when working on exterior decorations. A few safety tips can greatly reduce the risk of suffering decoration-related injuries.
Tips for Preventing Injuries While Hanging Decorations on Your Home’s Exterior
Safety should be a top priority for any homeowner during the holiday season. Spend your holidays enjoying the company of friends and family instead of recovering from a potentially serious injury. Keep the following basic safety tips in mind when hanging holiday decorations on the exterior of your home:
● Check wiring of all electronic decorations before hanging them. If you attach holiday lights around the outside of your home, inspect them carefully before you start hanging them. Check for any cracked or frayed wire casings or any other signs of damage; if you plug in a broken cord of lights, it may cause a short circuit and could potentially cause electrocution injuries.
● Do not use staples to hang Christmas lights. You may think that using heavy-duty staples would be a good way to keep your strings of holiday lights in place, but this is a bad idea. Staples are metal, and stapling the string of lights too forcefully could create compression that damages the wires or even exposes them directly. Plastic light clips are an affordable and much safer alternative to stapling.
● Never hammer or tack through wires. Similar to avoiding staples for hanging strings of lights, never hammer through them or place tacks into the wires; this will damage the wire casings and potentially lead to electrocution injuries. Staples, nails, and other fixtures that create small holes in the exterior of your home also open the door to water damage from rain and snowmelt.
● When using extension cords, keep connections off the ground and use heavy-duty extension cords. Ideally, you should place extension cords along the sides of your home away from the ground and keep them secure with zip-ties or other nonmetal fixtures. You can also find protective covers for the connections so they do not suffer damage from snow, sleet, and other winter precipitation.
● Clean your gutters and protect them before the winter arrives. If your gutters are full of fallen leaves and other debris, this could easily lead to water overflowing from rain or snowmelt that could then cause an electrical hazard if it comes into contact with the lights near your gutters.
● Have someone to assist you when climbing ladders. Even if you are experienced with using ladders, it’s a good idea to have someone else act as a spotter and hold the ladder while you climb it. This helps to ensure stability and can minimize the risk of a falling injury.
● Store your lights responsibly when finished with them. Do not simply toss a jumble of Christmas lights into a box to store them for next year. This will not only make them a frustrating mess when it comes time to untangle them, but also increase the chances of physical damage to the lights. You can make simple wire storage units using cut pieces of cardboard or simply wind them along their natural curvature and keep them secure with zip-ties until next year.
● Avoid walking on your roof. If you need to walk on your roof at all, do so safely and use extreme caution. Try to avoid walking on the water channels and the lower parts of shingles. If your roof has tiles, place your feet along the rounded tops of the tiles and never step in the water channels. Soft sneakers with a good grip are the best footwear to use if you need to climb on your roof for any reason.
● Schedule a roof inspection. A professional roofer can thoroughly check your roof inside and out to ensure it is free of any problems that could interfere with your holiday decorating. Not only could this potentially help you avoid injuries while decorating, but it could also help you identify problems with your roof before they turn into more serious and more expensive issues.
Proper care and attention while hanging your holiday decorations can help you avoid serious injuries. If you plan on doing any preventative roof maintenance this fall, it’s a good idea to also check for any issues that may complicate your holiday decorating plans. If you encounter any issues you do not feel safe or comfortable addressing yourself, an experienced roofer can be a tremendous asset and help you handle these issues efficiently, quickly, and safely.
Enjoy the Holidays and Stay Injury-Free
The holiday season should be spent enjoying the company of family and friends, not recovering from preventable injuries. Most holiday season injuries occur from decorating, so using appropriate caution and care when hanging holiday decorations on the exterior of your home is a necessity for any homeowner. Consider which decorations you plan to use this holiday season and refer to the aforementioned tips to spare yourself serious injuries and enjoy peace of mind during the holidays.