By Jessica Bennett | BHG.Com
Troy Warren for CNT #HomeGarden
Most ladder accidents happen in the fall when homeowners prep their gutters for winter and put holiday lights up (or both). Follow these extension ladder safety tips to avoid injury during outdoor chores this season.
Although homeowners use ladders around their property throughout the year, fall comes with a lot of tasks that require access to the roof via a ladder. Clearing leaves and other debris from gutters is a fall maintenance essential; failing to do so can block water flow and potentially cause leaks or damage to the house. Not to mention, decking out the house for the holidays starts as soon as Halloween.
No matter which outdoor task you’re working on, it’s important to follow best safety practices when using ladders. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries each year. Falling from any height could result in broken bones, head injuries, or skin lesions, and DIYers need to be especially careful. Hanging outdoor lights or cleaning the gutters tend to be solitary jobs, meaning no one is there to help you or break your fall in the case of a ladder accident.
No matter the reason you’re up on a ladder, here are the safety precautions you need to take.
1. Inspect the ladder before use.
Before you set up a ladder, check it over carefully. Make sure the rungs are secure and free of dirt and buildup. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for any specific safety or usage tips.
2. Position the ladder in a sturdy spot.
With an extension or straight ladder, make sure that the tops of both rails make solid contact with the wall and that both legs are placed firmly on even ground. Set the base of the ladder 1 foot from the wall for every 3 feet of ladder height. For example, if you’re using a 24-foot ladder, position the base 8 feet away from the wall. If you’re working on soft ground, add a piece of plywood under the ladder’s legs to ensure solid footing.
3. Stay safe while on the ladder.
While on the ladder, keep your hips between the rails for good balance. Always wear rubber-soled or nonslip shoes on a ladder, and avoid working in rainy, snowy, or windy weather. You should never climb a ladder that’s wet. If you are getting something off a shelf, have someone there to spot you and grab the item from you before climbing down.
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