Emergency-signChristmas lights and decorations aren’t just filling up Iowa homes and trees, they’re also filling up the emergency room. In Cedar Rapids, UnityPoint Health/St. Luke’s Hospital ER Doctor Anthony Carter told KCRG-TV that decorating-related falls happen quite a bit.

“I have seen a ladder injury every day for the last week,” Carter said. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports emergency rooms nationwide handled more than 15,000 injuries in November and December 2012. That’s about 250 a day.

The most common injuries were cuts and back strains. Scot Hughes of Cedar Rapids knows the dangers of decorating all too well. Last year, he was using a ladder to hang lights from his roof.

“I had the last ten feet of lights to finish and as I got onto that slick spot on the roof, instantly, I felt myself sliding right off the edge and I came off and landed on the driveway and broke my right ankle,” Hughes said. This year, Hughes stayed off the ladder and kept the Christmas lights and other decorations in the yard.

Cedar Rapids Fire Marshal Vance McKinnon believes too many people take risks when they use a ladder outside the home. “It’s very important not to step on that top rung of the ladder. There’s a sign on that ladder that tells you not to use the top of that for a reason,” McKinnon told KCRG. “It’s very important also that if you are on an extension ladder outside that somebody is footing that ladder for you.”

By Jill Kasparie, KCRG-TV