Photo courtesy of Homewood Fire Department.
1212 HFD Ladder
How not to get stuck hanging Christmas lights.
Ladder accidents are responsible for 90,000 visits to emergency rooms each year. For many, the annual ritual of hanging Christmas lights will result in a trip to the hospital, and some falls may be fatal. Fire Marshal/Battalion Chief Rusty McCombs recommends preparing for safe Christmas light hanging projects anywhere ladders would be used. Safety begins with planning, and each plan should include an inspection of the equipment. Not only should your lights be tested before you begin hanging them, but the ladders you are using should also be inspected. McCombs recommends implementing the following safety procedures:
- Before using a ladder, especially a ladder that has been stored for a while or borrowed from a friend, inspect it for cracks or broken joints.
- Remember that if it does not look safe, it probably isn’t.
- Place your ladder on a stable, even surface. Never place a ladder on top of another object.
- One person should be holding the base of the ladder while someone else is on it.
- Use a 1-to-4 ratio to ensure a stable working platform. Place the base of the ladder one foot away from whatever it leans against for every four feet of height.
- When using an A-frame stepladder, make sure the brace is locked in place.
- If climbing onto another surface such as a roof, make sure the ladder extends at least three feet past the platform you are climbing onto. This way, you can hold onto the ladder as you step onto the roof.
- Secure tall ladders by tying or fastening the ladder to prevent movement.
- Never stand on the top step or on the paint shelf of a stepladder.
- Keep both feet on the ladder. Never put one foot on a rung (step) and the other foot on a different surface.
- Always face the ladder when climbing up or down.
- Never leave ladders unattended. Kids love to climb them.