JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – If you haven’t started already, you will probably start decorating your homes with lights, wreaths and other items for Christmas.

Many Mississippians will hang lights outside their home, but officials with American Medical Response (AMR) are encouraging neighbors to be cautious while decorating.

The National Safety Council and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported several thousand people per year in the United States are injured in falls from ladders. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reported that men and the elderly are at higher risk of injury from falling.

“Elders are more likely to fall from ladders because their vision and balance may have changed and elders who fall often require longer rehabilitation,” said AMR spokesman Jim Pollard.

People who fall from ladders can suffer head injuries and break hips, arms and legs.

Here are some tips to prevent ladder injuries:

  • Before climbing a ladder, think about your current health. If you have lost strength or it is harder to keep your balance, stay off the ladder. If your instincts warn you to beware of climbing ladders, stay off them.
  • Avoid using a ladder outdoors after dark.
  • Keep your ladders in good condition. Check ladders for cracks or weak spots. Be sure rungs are sturdy and locking devices work properly.
  • The feet of the ladder must rest on a surface that is firm, level, dry and not slippery.
  • When leaning a ladder against a wall, move the bottom of the ladder away from the wall one fourth of the height of the ladder.
  • Do not lean ladders against gutters or other weaker parts of a building that may break away.
  • If you’re using power equipment with cords, be absolutely sure the cords are in good condition. Metal ladders will carry an electrical jot if a frayed cord is touching the ladder when the tool is running.
  • Wear shoes that are dry and have enough tread to prevent slipping.
  • Never use a ladder in front of a door someone may open.
  • Insist that another person hold the ladder the whole time someone is on it.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s warnings on weight limits.
  • Keep both feet on the same rung while you are working.
  • Do not stand on either of the top two rungs.
  • Do not reach or lean so far in any direction that you cannot keep both feet flat on the rung where you are standing.
  • Keep your tools on a belt or in your pockets or hand them to your “spotter” so both hands will be free when you’re going up or down the ladder.
  • Do not use ladders when you have drunk alcohol.
  • Do not use ladders outside on days with stiff winds.