HARTLEPOOL Borough Council is reminding residents of the dangers of putting up festive decorations in the run-up to Christmas.

Figures produced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for National Ladder Safety Week show that the growing trend of decorating roofs and properties for the festive season could lead to increased numbers of injuries.

Michael Welsh, the council's principal trading standards officer, said: "Every year, the number of people decorating the outside and, in particular, the roof of their property is increasing.

"These Christmas decorations may well be colourful, but unless they are put up safely, it could result in people injuring themselves."

Figures produced by the HSE showed that last year a total of 13 people died from falls while working on a ladder, and more than 12,000 suffered major injuries.

Mr Welsh said that before people start they should consider the following:

* Are the Christmas decorations suitable for outdoor use?

* How were they stored last year and are they still in a safe condition to re-use?

* Have the decorations been checked for loose connections and broken or worn cables?

* Are they capable of erecting and removing the decorations themselves?

* Is the weather suitable and is there sufficient daylight remaining?

"When using a ladder to put up Christmas decorations, you should always involve another person to stop the ladder from slipping or falling," added Mr Welsh.

A free leaflet entitled Ladder Safety Users Handbook can be obtained from the Civic Centre.