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Holiday ladder safety decorating

The Do's and Don'ts of Ladder Safety

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With the holiday season upon us, home decorating is in full swing. While decorating our homes for the holidays is a cheerful family activity, it can also be full of safety hazards. Our physical therapists have seen it all: falls off ladders while stringing lights, strained backs caused by carrying heavy boxes of decorations down from the attic, cuts, scrapes, bruises and everything in between.

Ladders are essential tools that help us get the job done efficiently, but improper use can also lead to injury. To keep your holiday season merry and bright – and to save yourself a trip to see us – take a look at the following do’s and don’ts of decorating before making your first trip up the ladder.

Setting up:

  • Don’t place a ladder on uneven ground or on moveable objects like boxes and bricks.
  • Do set the ladder on a firm and level base.
  • Don’t use a ladder substitute for height like boxes or chairs
  • Do keep the ladder free of any slippery materials.
  • Don’t use a damaged ladder.
  • Do remember to lock the ladder braces.

Your surroundings:

  • Don’t ignore nearby overhead power lines.
  • Do ensure the surrounding area is clear of clutter and debris.
  • Don’t position the ladder in front of a door that opens toward you.
  • Do check the ground for water and ice, which can not only be a slipping hazard but also an electrical one.

Using the ladder:

  • Don’t exceed the ladder’s maximum weight rating. (Keep in mind the weight of what you’re carrying, as well)
  • Do follow the manufacturer’s instructions and weight limit guidelines.
  • Don’t lean over to the side beyond the side rails or overreach.
  • Do carry tools in a belt to keep your hands free.
  • Don’t jump off the ladder.
  • Do stay near the middle of the ladder and keep your body between the side rails.
  • Don’t use the top two rungs of the ladder.
  • Do maintain three points of contact with the ladder, like two hands and a foot or a hand and two feet.
  • Don’t move or shift a ladder while a person or equipment are on it.
  • Do always face the ladder when climbing up or down.

General safety:

  • Don’t use a ladder if you feel tired or dizzy or are prone to losing your balance.
  • Do wear good outdoor shoes with slip-resistant soles. Also make sure your shoes are clean and dry for added traction.
  • Don’t use ladders in high winds, during storms, while it is dark or in bad weather.
  • Do minimize other distractions, like your cell phone.

Don’t forget to recruit a holiday helper! Having someone you trust nearby can ensure you not only have a helping hand with the decorations, but that you can also get the care you need in the event of an injury. 

Most of all, exercise common sense and good judgment. Have fun and happy decorating!

If you do take a fall while using a ladder, get help. Talk to your primary care doctor or visit a physical therapist at Ochsner Therapy & Wellness for a consultation.

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