As the holidays draw near and the year comes to a close, many homeowners will be either be DIYing home projects and decorations or hiring workers to put up and remove holiday decorations, perform home repairs, clean chimneys, and more. Anytime someone works on a roof or in a dangerous area of someone’s home or business, the risk for injury is present.
Slip and fall accidents are common among those putting up holiday decorations; on average 5,800 people are treated for slip and fall injuries involving holiday decorating each year. More than half of these injuries were a result of a fall from a ladder or roof while trying to place holiday lights on a house.
An additional 4,000 people are injured and treated each year for injuries caused by extension cords. Fifty percent of extension cord injuries are a result of tripping over cords; common injuries include fractures, lacerations, contusions and sprains.
Liability in these instances depend on a variety of factors. Typically, it must be proven that the building or home owner’s negligence caused the accident or injuries. For instance, if a property owner is aware of any condition that may potentially be dangerous for a contractor, friend or family member helping with repairs or decorations, they must properly inform them in advance. If you or a loved one is injured while doing contracted work on a home, our attorneys can help get you the compensation you deserve.
If you plan to put the lights up yourself, follow these safety tips to protect you, your family and guests:
- Keep walkways in your home and yard free of holiday lights and other decorations. If a person trips and falls on electric cords or is injured due to a hazardous situation, you could be liable under the legal theory of premises liability, which says that property owners must take reasonable measures to ensure that their property is safe and hazard-free.
- Check lights for damage. First, make sure to look for any broken lights, frayed wires, and other damaged areas. Do this while the lights are unplugged. If you notice broken lights, use heavy gloves to remove them and replace them. If you notice frayed wires, it is time to discard that cord and replace it with a new one. Frayed wires and broken lights can pose a fire hazard.
- Stick with three standard-size light strands per extension cord. Do not overload an extension cord. Plug a maximum of three light strands into one extension cord. If you have more light strands, find more extension cords. Also, make sure the cords don’t pose a tripping or strangulation hazard. Hang them high enough that they are out of reach from children, and secure them with heavy duty staples that can’t easily be pulled out.
- Choose lights that are certified for outdoor use. If you are decorating outdoors, make sure the lights are certified for that use. If they can’t stand up under the weather, they could pose a fire hazard as they begin to break down. If the lights are not certified for outdoor use, save them for inside.
- Fasten lights firmly. Use a staple gun to properly secure lights to your home. No one should be able to easily pull them down. Make sure all cords are out of reach of children. Also consider pets. Cats often like to play with decorations; make sure they can’t pull over a Christmas tree or pull the lights off the outside of your house because of a loose cord that is within reach.
- Turn out the lights when you aren’t home. If you are leaving for more than a few minutes, make sure to turn all the lights off and unplug them. This will greatly reduce your risk of a fire while you are out.
If you or a loved one is injured this holiday season putting lights or doing home repairs for someone else, or if you were injured by faulty lights, installation or extension cords, our premise liability attorneys can help.
Please, call toll free at 1-800-444-5309 for your free consultation. We have offices in Scranton, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg and will travel to you.