Information by CopperPoint Mutual Insurance Company: We love to celebrate the holidays. And, many of our businesses and private homes get temporary facelifts during this special time of year. Lights are strung and decorations placed carefully to help set a festive mood.

Unfortunately, each year the holidays also claim victims of accidents caused by all the distractions this time of year. A member benefits partner with Arizona Farm Bureau, CopperPoint Mutual Insurance wants to remind Arizonans to make safety a priority in everything from stringing lights and putting up decorations, to making meals. Be sure to follow safety guidelines when using ladders or when baking cookies.

Ladder Safety

It may be easier or convenient to stand on a chair or table, but a better choice is to use the right ladder for the job. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than 136,000 ladder accidents occur annually leading to emergency room visits. To learn how to use a ladder properly, CopperPoint’s website – – has a ladder safety video online. Click on the “Safety & Resources” drop-down menu and go to “Videos.”

According to CopperPoint’s Senior Loss Control Consultant Carl Hamilton, “Most common ladder hazards, such as instability, electrical shock and falls, are preventable.  Prevention requires proper planning, correct ladder selection, good work procedures and proper ladder maintenance.”

A ladder safety no no! 

He offered these tips:

  • Use the proper ladder for the job
  • Inspect the ladder to ensure it is in good shape
  • Never hand carry loads on a ladder; hoist decorations up and down
  • Wear shoes with nonskid soles
  • While on the ladder don’t overreach; if you can’t reach where you want, climb down and reposition the ladder
  • Be sure the ladder maintains three-point contact at all times
  • Face the ladder while climbing up or down and hold the side rails with both hands
  • Never stand on the top three rungs or a straight ladder or use the top or top step of a stepladder
  • Space the ladder base one foot out for every four feet it reaches up
  • If using a stepladder, open it completely
  • Work away from power lines
  • Only one person should be on the ladder at a time

Using Electricity

Because many holiday decorations require electricity, Hamilton said all electrical cords should be inspected before use. If they are frayed or damaged, replace them to avoid severe shocks, electrocution or fires.

He offered these tips:

  • Check electrical cords for fraying or breaking
  • Be sure extension cords used have the capacity to carry the load
  • Fuses or circuit breakers protect circuits and equipment from damage, if your load trips a breaker or blows out a fuse, re-examine the electrical load your decorations need
  • Keep cords protected so no one trips on them
  • To reduce ground-fault hazards, use a three-pronged grounded plug

In the Kitchen

Another area of holiday concern is the kitchen which becomes a hot bed of activity. Common injuries here include strains and sprains, cuts from knives, slips, trips and falls, as well as burns. But proper procedures can help you avoid getting hurt, Hamilton said.

“Make sure you know how to properly handle, use and store knives and other sharp utensils,” Hamilton said. “And make sure you use sharpened knives. If they are dull, they can cause injuries because if the increased exertion you need to get your desired outcome. Also, always cut away from the body and keep the fingers and thumbs away from the cutting line.”

Burns can occur from hot stoves, open flames and steam. Hamilton suggested that when lifting covers from a dish, use the lid as a shield from hot steam.

“Even a small amount of steam in the eyes can be harmful,” Hamilton said. “Always be aware of boiling water and other hot foods and their ability to scald and burn if they contact human skin. Keeping a fire extinguisher nearby can be helpful in putting out a grease fire.”

He added that using barriers such as mitts, arm pads, aprons and other kitchen safety personal protection equipment can help prevent burns.

Finally, keep your floors clean. If anything spills, wipe it up to avoid slipping.

For more on kitchen safety tips or safety in general, visit

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