NEWS | Nov. 30, 2011

Take care with Christmas lights

By 628th Air Base Wing Safety Office

Each year, more than 12 thousand people are treated at hospital emergency rooms for injuries such as falls, cuts and shocks related to holiday lights and decorations according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In order to combat these injuries, the CPSC recommends:

· Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory which indicates conformance with safety standards. Use only lights that have fused plugs.

· Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections and throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs.

· Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the intended use.

· Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.

· Stay away from power or feeder lines leading from utility poles into older homes.

· Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. Or, run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).

· Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

· Use caution when removing outdoor holiday lights. Never pull or tug on lights - they could unravel and inadvertently wrap around power lines.

· Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters. Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician.

The CPSC also offers these safety tips when using a ladder:

· Make sure the weight your ladder is supporting does not exceed its maximum load rating (user plus materials). There should only be one person on the ladder at one time.

· Use a ladder that is the proper length for the job. Proper length is a minimum of 3 feet extending over the roofline or working surface. The three top rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder should not be stood on.

· Straight, single or extension ladders should be set up at about a 75-degree angle.

· All metal ladders should have slip-resistant feet.

· Metal ladders will conduct electricity. Use a wooden or fiberglass ladder in the vicinity of power lines or electrical equipment. Do not let a ladder made from any material contact live electric wires.

· Be sure all locks on extension ladders are properly engaged.

· The ground under the ladder should be level and firm. Large flat wooden boards braced under the ladder can level a ladder on uneven ground or soft ground. A good practice is to have a helper hold the bottom of the ladder.

· Do not place a ladder in front of a door that is not locked, blocked or guarded.

· Keep your body centered between the rails of the ladder at all times. Do not lean too far to the side while working.

· Do not use a ladder for any purpose other than that for which it was intended.

· Do not step on the top step, bucket shelf or attempt to climb or stand on the rear section of a stepladder.

· Never leave a raised ladder unattended.

· Follow use instruction labels on ladders.

Visit the websites below for additional decorating safety tips. or