Healthy Communities

By Jennifer McGohanJennifer Weeks

(Wampsville, NY – Dec. 2012) Although fall-related injuries happen throughout the year, the holiday season presents increased chances of injuries from slips, trips, and falls.  The majority of holiday-related falls happen while hanging holiday lights using a ladder. Madison County Health Department has some tips for you to consider to safely take down your holiday lights, ornaments, and other decorations before the holiday season comes to an end.

*Ensure ladders are secure and level on the ground before climbing.

*Space the base of the ladder 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet it extends up.

*Stay centered between the rails of the ladder. Never overreach—move the ladder.

*Make sure step ladders are locked open, securely. Never use a folding step ladder when it is closed.

*Never stand on the top two rungs of a ladder.

*Never stand on a chair or table.

*Use common sense to determine when a step stool will do or when you need to use a ladder.

According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 5,822 injuries on average occur each holiday season in the United States due to decorating or related activities. The most injuries (62 percent) occurred in young and middle aged adults’ ages 20-49 years. Most falls are from ladders while hanging holiday lights, followed by injuries by roofs, furniture (standing on a step stool to hang a tree topper), stairs, and tripping or slipping on holiday objects like a tree skirt or ornament.

The holiday season can be enjoyed safely by being aware and taking steps to avoid falls when putting up or taking down holiday decorations. Use ladders safely and choose a safer alternative like a step stool instead of chair when hanging decorations at lower heights. For more information on preventing falls, go to

Jennifer McGohan is a Public Health Educator with Madison County Department of Health.


By martha

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