Warren’s Words of Wisdom: Holiday Ladders and Cords

Tis the season, to decorate the house and bushes!!!

Has the outdoor decoration bug started for you yet? I see Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations up, seems like six months of the year. My neighbor gets the grand prize, he never takes his Christmas lights down. The hood appreciates his year-round North Pole Santa Village approach, helps our property values.

When I see outdoor decorations, I think of extension cords and ladders. Both can be hazardous to life and limb if you’re not smart. Follow these tips to survive the season and enjoy the family!

Ladders help you reach the eaves of the roof near the spot where the service wires come to the house. Ladders being carried vertically can reach the typical 12-foot ground to service wire height.  The metal ladder you’re holding hitting a service wire could make whatever holiday you’re decorating for your last. If you can, please replace your metal ladder with a fiberglass ladder. However, you should still avoid touching any wires, but having a fiberglass ladder could be the one part that saves you if you make a mistake.

Now being on a fiberglass ladder will not protect you if you touch a wire and touch another way for the electricity to flow—phone, cable, gutters, lights, etc. The safest way to work is always to stay at least a distance where you cannot reach the service wire by hand or with any tool you may have in your hand. Do you really need that corner for the last section of lights? Call your utility and ask them to cover the service wire from your weatherhead out 10’ – 12’ away from the house. This is a free service!! Use it if you want to paint or clean gutters too. The insulating cover will give you some protection for incidental contact. It will stay up until you call to have it removed.

Okay, we have the ladder safety addressed, now let’s look at the extension cords powering the 15-foot inflatable snow globe with Rudolph and his red nose.

Would you bet your life or a family member’s life that this extension cord was safe to use?

Think there’s a risk of electrocution?

BEFORE you start running extension cords all over the yard, inspect them for cuts, damage, melting, and make sure they have the THREE-prong plugs. Don’t be breaking off the ground prong so you can use the cord or tools. You need the grounding plug in case of a fault to safely direct the current to the neutral, otherwise it can go through the person holding the tool or lights. You don’t want that!! Use GFCI’s!!!

Want to have the biggest flashiest display that puts the Griswolds’ Christmas Vacation to shame?

I applaud your support of the local electric utility, just take it down by July 4th, please.

Happy Holidays!


About Connecticut T2 Center

The Training & Technical Assistance Center at UCONN provides education and technical assistance to members of Connecticut's Transportation and Public Safety Community, including municipal public works directors, street and road maintenance superintendents and staff, city and town engineers, Connecticut Department of Transportation employees, transportation planners and law enforcement professionals serving as legal traffic authorities. We are Connecticut's LTAP Center
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