Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Be careful hanging those holiday lights!

One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions – a close second to scarfing down my Mom’s delicious green bean casserole – is hauling out the Christmas decorations! I’ll never forget the year we attempted to hang our outdoor Christmas lights ourselves. It was that peak at the top of the garage that really got us. As the wind picked up, our confidence plummeted, and we wisely decided that lighting the second half of the house wasn’t worth our anxiety or risk involved.

As it turns out, fall injuries are a common cause of trips to the ER during the holidays. Dr. Terence McCarthy, emergency physician on the medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, offers tips on how to safely deck your halls:

•    Firstly, be careful stepping around your attic while getting down decorations. Injuries can happen even before the holiday hanging commences: be sure to step on beams (ceiling joists) so you don’t fall through the attic floor.

•    Don’t attempt to hang decorations by yourself. Make sure someone is with you to hold the ladder at the bottom and to call for help in case of an emergency.

•    Don’t drink and hang decorations. In general, drink responsibly during the holidays (and all year round), but especially don’t partake in holiday cheer and then climb a ladder to decorate. Gravity and alcohol don't mix.

•    Never get on the roof. If you think you have to get on the roof to get lights where you want them, call a professional to do it for you.

•    Don’t do any reaching. Don’t overextend yourself trying to reach for that corner or peak on top of your garage. And if you’re ladder isn’t tall enough, go grab a different one.

•    Don’t hang high decorations if you have a medical condition. If you have heart disease or if you’re on a blood thinner medication, falling from a tall height could pose even greater risks for you.

•    If the weather outside is frightful, leave it for another day. Wind, ice, and rain can make hanging lights and decorations more dangerous.

Here’s hoping you have a fun, safe, and cheerful Thanksgiving holiday!

Megan Brooks is a Sr. Public Relations Specialist for Texas Health Resources, Stepmom, and Mom who avidly avoids heights.

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