In Rhome, Texas last week, a young father died after falling while stringing Christmas lights. Felipe Gallegos, 39, had years of experience on ladders. He operated a window cleaning business with his wife, Alisha Flick. A large part of his profits during the holidays involved hanging Christmas lights for clients.
Flick called the fall a freak accident and said she didn’t see what happened when he fell. She heard a loud noise, went outside and found her husband lying on the concrete. Gallegos had suffered a skull fracture, brain bleeding and a chest fracture. Although he was rushed into emergency surgery, Gallegos died shortly after from head trauma.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were more than 14,000 decorating-related ER-treated injuries during the holiday season last year in the U.S. That’s an average of more than 200 injuries per day. Approximately 43 percent of them were caused by falls from ladders. Fractures are the most commonly reported injury, however last year there were five deaths according to the CDC.
Brad Parker warns about trying to do all the decorating alone. “The older you get, your balance isn’t what it used to be. Even a minor fall can cause long-term damage," Brad says. "It’s important to always have someone else there when you are decorating to help hold the ladder, hand you things or call for medical assistance if you do fall.”
One option many are taking is hiring professionals to hang their Christmas lights and decorations. This can be a good decision, especially if you don’t think you are physically capable of handling the job.
Brad says, “If you do hire a contractor to do this service, be sure to warn them about any hidden dangers on your property, such as holes in the yard. It’s also important to sign a contract that says they are responsible for any injuries and you are absolved from any conduct while they are providing their service.”
Basic Ladder Safety Guidelines
When using a ladder, whether inside or out, follow these tips:
- Wear sturdy, slip-resistant shoes
- Place ladder on solid, even ground
- Check for damage and moisture before climbing
- Always have someone nearby while on a ladder
- Choose the correct size ladder for the job (never stand on one of the top two rungs)
- Don’t use a ladder in any way other than its intended to be used for
- Follow the 4-to-1 rule: for every four feet of height, the ladder base should be one foot away from the wall
- Maintain three points of contact (two feet and one hand or one foot and two hands)
- Don’t climb while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Don’t lean or overreach, and always keep your torso between the ladder side rails
At Parker Law Firm, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe people matter. We are committed to our clients, not case numbers, and we believe in the power of the civil justice system. With years spent both representing accident victims and participating in the state legislative process, our founder, Brad Parker, has developed a deep understanding of the law and gained unique experience that helps him get results for his clients.
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