AMERICAN MEDICAL RESPONSE OFFERS TIPS FOR OUTDOOR DECORATING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Draping electric icicles around the eaves, hanging wreaths and placing the angel atop a tall tree are only three parts of holiday decorating which often require a ladder. Of course, what goes up must eventually come down. American Medical Response (AMR) reminds central Mississippi residents that falls from ladders can cripple or kill, and even short stepladders pose a hazard.
The National Safety Council and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported several thousand people per year in the U.S. are injured in falls from ladders. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reports that men and the elderly are at higher risk of injury from falling.
According to AMR spokesman Jim Pollard, “Elders are more likely to fall from ladders because their vision and balance may have changed and elders who fall often require longer rehabilitation.” Men, he added, are more likely to be overconfident about using ladders and more inclined to take risks using them.
People who fall from ladders can suffer head injuries and break hips, arms and legs, Pollard said.
According to the Home Safety Council, misuse of the ladder is the main cause of injuries due to falling off a ladder. In a recent study, the Council found more than half of those injured placed the ladder on uneven ground. Nearly half reached farther than they should. Almost 40 percent fell after dark. More than a third fell after standing on the top two ladder steps. More than 20 percent drank alcohol while using the ladder.
“Most folks use ladders infrequently so they lack experience and skill with them,” Pollard said. “We’re most likely to use ladders during year-end holidays and spring fix-up. With the year-end holidays, we face twice the risk because we have to take down all the decorations we put up. We all need to be mindful of the risk of ladder falls.”
Pollard gave this advice to prevent ladder injuries:
Before climbing a ladder, think about your current health. If you have lost strength or it is harder to keep your balance, stay off the ladder. If your instincts warn you to beware of climbing ladders, stay off them.
Avoid using a ladder outdoors after dark.
Keep your ladders in good condition. Check ladders for cracks or weak spots. Be sure rungs are sturdy and locking devices work properly.
The feet of the ladder must rest on a surface that is firm, level, dry and not slippery.
When leaning a ladder against a wall, move the bottom of the ladder away from the wall one fourth of the height of the ladder.
Do not lean ladders against gutters or other weaker parts of a building that may break away. It is safer to use ladders with built-in stand-off bars that hold the ladder off gutters and other soft parts of a structure.
If you’re using power equipment with cords, be absolutely sure the cords are in good condition. Metal ladders will carry an electrical jot if a frayed cord is touching the ladder when the tool is running.
Wear shoes that are dry and have enough tread to prevent slipping.
Never use a ladder in front of a door someone may open.
Insist that another person hold the ladder the whole time someone is on it. Ladders are a two-person tool.
Follow the manufacturer’s warnings on weight limits.
Keep both feet on the same rung while you are working. It’s safer to maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times.
Do not stand on either of the top two rungs.
Do not reach or lean so far in any direction that you cannot keep both feet flat on the rung where you are standing. Instead of reaching too far, climb down, move the ladder closer to the spot you need to reach, climb back up and reach safely.
Keep your tools on a belt or in your pockets or hand them to your “spotter” so both hands will be free when you’re going up or down the ladder.
Do not use ladders when you have drunk alcohol.
Do not use ladders outside on days with stiff winds.
Remember: Climbing onto the roof from a ladder is especially dangerous.