|Marc Darnell, a window washer right, hangs holiday lights on Tuesday in St. Joseph. Mr. Darnell owns a business during the holiday season called Marc Not Clark Lighting. He and his employees hang the lights that he rents to clients.|
Stay safe while decorating for the holidays: Every year, emergency rooms across the U.S. treat about 12,500 people for falls, cuts and shocks due to holiday lights, decorations and trees, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Candles account for 150 deaths, and Christmas trees cause 300 fires and 10 deaths. The recent rain in the area poses additional concerns, officials said.
“We’ve had a lot of rain lately,” said Sheldon Lyon, executive director of St. Joseph Safety and Health Council. “We don’t want to lay those extension cords in standing water. Because if there’s a nick on the cord, it could energize that puddle of water and we don’t want to see electrocution as a result of faulty wiring.”
It’s important to inspect decorations, lights and cords to ensure they are not damaged, he said. Avoid using wires with electrical tape. The frayed or damaged cord could become energized and cause an electrical shock or fire.
Marc Darnell has been in the window washing business for 17 years. He began installing Christmas lights on commercial buildings eight years ago, and on residences four years ago. There are many safety rules his team follows, he said, but overall the most important one they follow is to use common sense.
“There are no heroes, no one does anything crazy because we wanna have fun tonight,” Mr. Darnell said. “I’ve had one scare in 17 years.” The incident happened while he was on a ladder. It shifted and he almost fell backward. Luckily, he was able to grab the ladder and prevent a fall.
Mr. Lyon recommends following Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) 4-to-1 ladder standards. For example, a 10-foot ladder should be placed 2½ feet away from the structure.
Mr. Lyon said Christmas lights should be used appropriately. Interior Christmas lights should only be placed indoors and exterior lights should remain outdoors. Outdoor lights are manufactured to withstand cold and wet conditions, while indoor lights are safety tested to ensure they are not a fire hazard on Christmas trees.
Outdoor lights used indoors may become a fire hazard since they are often hotter. “If the lights are older, throw them away and get new lights. They are not real expensive and certainly give you peace of mind knowing your family is safe,” Mr. Lyon said. Following a few safety tips can reduce the chances of having an accident and keep the holidays merry.