According to the American Ladder Institute, the top five most common causes of ladder accidents include missing the last step of the ladder when climbing down, overreaching while on the ladder, using the wrong size ladder, failing to put the ladder on level ground, and being off balance when climbing it.
“Ladders should be on level, firm ground, with leg levelers added if you’re on an incline,” Stephens said. To avoid balance issues, he recommends staying in the center of the ladder and always holding the side rails with both hands. “Leaning too far to one side while working can cause you to fall.”
Clean off any mud or liquids from the rungsand use a ladder with slip-resistant feet. “Inspect the ladder before using and check for any loose screws, hinges, or rungs that may need adjusting or replacing,” Stephens said. “It’s also best to use a dry, wooden ladder when hanging holiday lights, to reduce the chance of an electrical shock.”
Lastly, to hang decorations on your house, Stephens says you should extend the ladder at least three feet beyond the roof’s edge.
With a bit of caution and a few easy safety tips, the only fire at your house this holiday season will be the one in your fireplace.
Terri Williams is a freelance journalist with bylines at The Economist, USA Today, Yahoo, the Houston Chronicle, and U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.