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Deck the halls, don't wreck the halls: Christmas lights and ladder-related deaths

In the United States, more than 500,000 people per year are treated and more than 300 people die from ladder-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The estimated annual cost of ladder injuries in the United States is $24 billion, including work loss, medical, legal, liability, and pain and suffering expenses.  (SBG)

If you are getting ready to deck the halls, it is important to keep safety in mind - especially if you are hanging lights.

In the United States, more than 500,000 people per year are treated and more than 300 people die from ladder-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The estimated annual cost of ladder injuries in the United States is $24 billion, including work loss, medical, legal, liability, and pain and suffering expenses.

Another CDC study shows that falls remain a leading cause of unintentional injury mortality nationwide, and 43 percent of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder.

David Marchant and his team with A&K Landscaping are busy hanging lights professionally in Lane County. Marchant said one of his customers fell off her ladder this week.

"She broke three ribs and was in the hospital for about three days," Marchant said.

According to the CDC, major causes of ladder-related injuries include:

  • Incorrect extension ladder setup angle
  • Inappropriate ladder selection for the job or project
  • Insufficient ladder inspection
  • Improper ladder use
  • Lack of access to ladder safety tools and information

Marchant said ladder safety starts with a sturdy foundation.

"Some people will set their ladder down and one of the legs will be wobbly. So kick it out, make sure you get all four legs down tight on the A frame," Marchant said.

He said, do not overextend your ladder.

"That's a big risk. If you're too high. You could slip and then the ladder is just going to slide out from under you."

He also recommends working in pairs and checking the forecast before you begin.

"Especially this time of year," Marchant said. "It's raining, it's cold, so your hands aren't gripping very well."

Marchant said their light-hanging crews have been booked solid since October, and they expect to be removing lights through the end of January.

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