It’s time to hang lights and decorate Christmas trees, and it’s also a time when orthopedic surgeons get busy with ladder-climbing injuries! It never fails. I’ve always said that what makes your orthopedic surgeon money, is often something you shouldn’t be doing. All of us intuitively know climbing ladders is dangerous. I climb them all the time! But every time I do it, I know I’m taking my limbs, and potentially my life into my own hands.
My first recommendation is to get someone else to do it, especially if you’re older, have poor balance or lack the proper ladder.
If you’re going to ignore that solid recommendation, coming from someone who has seen the devastating ladder-climbing injuries firsthand, then the next step is to make sure you have good health insurance, life insurance policies are up to date, and someone has your power of attorney.
Now you’re still determined to put up your own Christmas lights and decorate that 15-foot Christmas tree. Then please take the following precautions:
- Make sure you have a solid, stable ladder. If possible, avoid ladders which rest against the wall.
- Make sure it’s the right ladder for the job. It must be tall enough.
- Don’t climb up to any height where you can’t hold solidly to the ladder in front of you.
- Wear solid shoes. No slippers, flip-flops, or stocking feet.
- Don’t drink and climb ladders…or drive.
- Pay attention to every step going up and coming down. Many injuries occur when people miss the last rung, thinking they’ve arrived at the bottom!
- Put ladders on solid Setting ladders in garden mulch or wet sod is madness.
- Avoid long reaches from the top of your ladder, like putting the star on the top of your Christmas tree.
- Have someone assist you from the ground, and be there to steady you, should you need it. They can call 911 too!
Have a safe and happy holiday season!