Holiday Decorating Safety Tips: Christmas Lights, Ladders and More

Getting in the holiday spirit at the workplace? Ensure safety is front and center.

Decorating the Workplace for the Holidays with Safety in Mind

Ready to display some holiday cheer around the workplace or home? Whether you’re stringing lights inside or focusing solely on outdoor holiday decorations, it’s a good idea to start with the following safety tips.

Safety Tips for Christmas Lights

It’s been a year since you used last those lights, which means you need to do more than plug them in to see if they’re working — you also need to visually inspect their condition.

Frayed wires? Those go straight to the trash, as do lights with any other wire damage. Replace broken lights, too. Remember, strands of lights and bulbs are cheap, but homes, offices, and lives aren’t.

Next, avoid overloading your power supplies, particularly if you’re daisy-chaining lights together. It’s easy to check: just plug in all lights in the desired configuration, leave them on for a few minutes, then touch the male end of each string of lights and any extension cords you’re using. If any of them feels warm, you’re overloaded. Remove a few of the strands from the chain and wire those into different plugs, then check again.

By the way, you may not need to wait to feel the heat. If you happen to “POP” a breaker in the panel, you’re definitely overloaded. Fix the problem rather than just resetting the breaker.

Here are several other safety tips to prevent Christmas light damage:

  • Never leave lights burning when you’re away.
  • Buy lights that have a fusible link (fuse in the plug).
  • Never connect more than three strands of lights together.
  • Make sure the plug you’re using fits your extension cord. In other words, DO NOT alter the plug end.
  • Don’t run extension cords through doorways.

One more tip: the plastic coating on the strands of Christmas light frequently contains low levels of lead. While it’s not sufficient to be considered harmful, always wash your hands carefully after working with lights, just to be safe.

Ladder Safety Steps for Holiday Decorating

Ladders are the common denominator in most holiday decorating injuries. Our advice: start smart. For example, when placing a ladder against a wall, use the 1:4 ratio to ensure a stable working platform (see image).

When using an A-frame stepladder, always check that the brace is locked into place. If climbing onto another surface, like a roof, make sure your ladder extends at least three feet past the platform you’re climbing onto.

Here are several more ladder-safety tips to follow anytime a ladder is in use:

  • Secure tall ladders by lashing or fastening the ladder to prevent movement.
  • Always face the ladder when climbing or descending.
  • Keep both feet on the ladder — never put one foot on a rung and the other foot on a different surface.
  • Do not climb higher than the second rung on stepladders or the third rung on straight or extension ladders.
  • Never stand on the top or the paint shelf of a stepladder.
  • Keep your belt buckle (if you have one) positioned between the rungs so it doesn’t catch.
  • Never leave ladders unattended — kids love them.
  • Work with a friend who can hand decorations to you (climbing a ladder carrying a wreath is no fun) and help steady the ladder, too.

Remember, the holidays should be fun. Play it safe when decorating and you’ll help keep them injury-free, too.

For more safety tips, please contact us.

Joey Eastwood, Human Resources Generalist

Author Joey Eastwood, Human Resources Generalist

Joey joined our team in 2001. Though most clients recognize him when he drops off their checks, Joey handles a huge variety of tasks and is the reason Stratus.hr is a well-oiled machine. Outside of work, Joey enjoys chasing powder in the winter and rapids in the summer.

More posts by Joey Eastwood, Human Resources Generalist