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Published: December, 2005; Vol 2, Num 7

Holiday Season Raises Safety Concerns

In all the excitement and distraction of the holiday season, safety isn’t always top-of-mind. Yet, as families and friends gather in celebratory situations, dangers increase and the risk of household accidents is high. Even the weeks leading up to the holidays carry increased risk as shoppers first crowd the malls in search of the gifts, decorations, food and drink that make this time of year so special – and then return home to make preparations for their parties and family celebrations.

Many organizations provide safety tips for the holiday season. This year, the LHSFNA's Health Promotion (HP) Division highlighted holiday drinking and identity theft while the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Division staff highlighted ladder and electrical safety (see below). For tips on other holiday safety concerns, check out these sites:

Ladders and Electricity

Ladders and electricity are familiar to Laborers at their worksites, but the situations at home are often different and need particular consideration. For other family members who decorate, the holidays may be the only time of year when they get involved with ladders or electrical safety. Here are some safety tips for these two important and common concerns.

Ladders:

  • Choose the right ladder and right size for the job (for extension ladders, at least one foot of distance from wall for each four feet in height).
  • Keep all ladders at least ten feet away from power lines.
  • Always secure the ladder by tying it down or having someone hold it.
  • Make sure it is set up on level firm ground.
  • Always face the ladder.
  • Wear slip resistant shoes.
  • Always maintain three-point contact (one hand, two feet).
  • Do not work from the top three steps of a ladder.
  • Do not carry objects in your hands when moving up or down a ladder (attach them to a tool belt or pull them up on a line after).
  • Do not use a ladder when it is windy.
  • Never leave an unsecured ladder set-up unattended.

Electrical:

  • Don’t work around electrical hazards when it is wet out or when floors or skin are wet.
  • Do not use wires, outlets or plugs that are broken or frayed.
  • Make sure there are no bare wires.
  • Always use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI).
  • Always unplug circuits, tools before attempting to fix them.
  • Do not let children use electrical tools, tools or appliances without adult supervision.
  • Electricity can be particularly hazardous if you have a heart condition.
  • Get help immediately if there is an accident. CPR may not be enough.
  • Turn off tree lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
  • Indoors or outside, only use lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates conformance with safety standards.
  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections; throw out damaged sets.
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.

[Steve Clark]