My husband loves to decorate the outside of our home for Christmas. He decorates the yard with lights, signs and large cutouts. He also puts Christmas decorations and Christmas lights on our roof each year. Even though we have a single story home, I worry about him being on the roof decorating for Christmas. He assures me that he is very careful and knows all of the safety tips for decorating the roof; however, I instead of visions of sugarplums dancing in my head I have visions of my husband rolling off the roof. In order to avoid a live version of Chevy Chase in “Christmas Vacation,” I am sharing the tips I keep repeating to my husband each year when he gets out the Christmas decorations and heads on top of our home to decorate.
1. Wear the correct shoes for working on a roof. Remember, you are on a roof that may be slippery from rain, ice or just web leaves. Wearing your worn-out tennis shoes is not advisable. Wear good boots with rubber soles and tread for working on roofs. Furthermore, wear the right clothes too – – my husband is hot-natured but this is not the time for him to throw on his shorts.
2. Clean debris and dirt before you begin installing Christmas decorations. Sweep the roof to remove dead leaves, dirt or other debris that could cause you to slip or trip.
3. Consider installing toeholds. My husband did this several years ago and it did ease my mind when he is on the roof installing Christmas decorations. Toe holds help you keep your footing secure and decrease the chances of slipping.
4. Wear a safety harness. If you are working on a roof that has a very steep pitch or on a multi-level house, you need to wear a safety harness when decorating for Christmas. It may not seem like the macho thing to do; however, there are several reasons in addition to keeping yourself from being hurt. You do not want to hear the words “I told you so” from your wife and you do not want to be story on the 6 o’clock news about stupid accidents while decorating your home for the holidays.
5. Do not decorate the roof in bad weather. This should be common sense but unfortunately, it is not. Do not attempt to decorate the roof on days that are windy or rainy. Even damp roofs can be a hazard so do not decorate right after a rain.
6. Check lights before putting them on the roof. Again, you do not want a Clark Griswold moment so check each bulb to make sure they work before putting them on the roof. Also, check the wires to make sure that there are no frays that could create a fire hazard.
7. Use plastic shingle tabs to hang the lights. Whenever possible, use the plastic shingle tabs instead of nails or staple guns. These are safer to use with electricity and they also protect your roof from damage.
8. Do not overload extension cords. Do not plug all of the lights into one extension cord by piggybacking the strands of lights. This creates a fire hazard and is extremely unsafe. Use multiple extension cords to remain safe.
9. Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). If you do not have these outlets, invest in having them installed by a qualified electrician. If not, you can purchase portable versions at home improvement stores. This protects your home and is worth the time and trouble.
10. Turn off outside Christmas lights and decorations at bedtime. Leaving Christmas lights on all night long wastes energy and is a fire hazard. When you lock up at night, switch off the outside Christmas lights.