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Christmas is coming: Keep calm and stay safe!

The countdown to Christmas has begun and with it the risk of people falling from ladders and stepladders as they hang decorations and dress the Christmas tree.

As the festive season approaches, the No Falls Foundation is urging everyone to take extra care, especially anyone who seldom uses a ladder and has little or no experience, or training, in how to use it safely.

Comments charity manager, Hannah Williams, 'As an organisation dedicated to height safety, we do not want to see people being rushed to A&E following a fall from a ladder or stepladder that they might only use once or twice a year. There are some simple steps that everyone can take for an accident free Christmas.'

The Foundation is asking everyone to take extra care and follow this simple advice:

1. Avoid using furniture, tables and chairs to stand on. Use a ladder or stepladder according to the height you wish to reach;

2. Before using the ladder make sure it is in good condition. Check the rungs or treads and the stiles (sides) are not bent, damaged or loose. Check the feet are clean, secure, and not worn out. Check locking devices are working and step ladder platforms are not buckled or cracked;

3. Position the ladder on a firm and level surface, facing the work wherever possible. Check the label for the ladders maximum load and do not exceed it. Step ladders must be fully opened, and any locking devices properly engaged. Never overreach, move the ladder to a better position;

4. Maintain a firm handhold and only let go for a moment when the task requires you to do so. When using a step ladder for jobs that briefly require both hands, keep both feet on the same step or on the platform and your body (knees or chest) supported by the stepladder to maintain three points of contact. On a leaning ladder, do not do any jobs that require you to let go for more than a few seconds e.g. starting a screw or nail;

5. Wear footwear with a good grip and move slowly and carefully up and down the ladder;

6. Do not drink and decorate! Alcohol significantly increases your risk of falling. You can celebrate once the job is done!

The work of the Foundation is actively supported by the Ladder Association, and the charity is inviting all ladder users this Christmas to watch Abbis Story , the story of how Abbis father was left paralysed from the waist down after falling 10 feet from a ladder.

You can sign up to receive the No Falls Foundations bi-monthly e-newsletter Saving Lives which contains details of all the latest news and developments at the charity. It also explains how to get involved with the work of the Foundation.

Finally, the Foundation is asking anyone who has suffered a fall and experienced its consequences to get in touch by emailing info@nofallsfoundation.org

Explains Hannah Williams, 'We are looking for people to share their personal stories in a series of case studies on the Foundations website, anonymously if necessary, for the benefit of others. If anyone would like to contribute to the work of the charity and help save lives by stopping falls, we would be delighted to hear from them.'