Safety tips for hanging holiday lights, avoiding other dangers

Carefully examine all of your Christmas lights and throw away any with frayed wires or broken bulbs. (Courtesy of Cleveland Clinic)

Now that Thanksgiving is over, many people are starting to decorate for the holidays and that includes hanging up Christmas lights, which can quickly lead to an accident if you’re not careful.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, on average, there are about 160 decorating-related injuries each day during the holiday season, with almost half of the incidents involving falls.

Dr. Thomas Waters, emergency medicine physician for Cleveland Clinic said the best way to stay safe is to only hang Christmas lights on the lower level, where you don’t need to use a ladder.

“The most dangerous part of that is the ladder and falling, especially when you’re putting them up in weather conditions where it might be cold, rainy, wet or even icy,” Waters said.

However, if you are going to use a ladder to get up to the roof, be sure to have someone down below holding the bottom. Be mindful of the weather, too. It can be easy to overlook slick spots.

As for other tips, carefully examine all of your Christmas lights and throw away any with frayed wires or broken bulbs.

“These are things that you typically pull out once a year. You should inspect them once you pull them out and then inspect them again once you put them away for the season,” Waters advised.

You should also avoid hanging holiday lights on anything that could be flammable, and be sure not to overload your electrical sockets.

When in doubt, Waters said it might be better to just pay a professional.

According to the CPSC, in the 2019 holiday season, about 14,800 people were treated in emergency rooms due to holiday decorating-related injuries.

Dry Christmas trees and burning candles are other possible hazards.

From 2016 to 2018, there were about 100 Christmas tree fires and about 1,100 candle fires in November and December each year, resulting in 30 deaths, 180 injuries, and nearly $56 million in property loss per year, the CPSC said.

The CPSC advised:

  • Make sure your live Christmas tree has plenty of water and look for the “Fire Resistant” label when buying an artificial tree.
  • Place burning candles in sight, away from flammable items, and blow them out before leaving the room.