Most homeowners are bound to use a portable ladder at some point, whether it be for cleaning out the gutters, painting, inspecting the roof or hanging festive holiday decorations. When up on that ladder, though, it’s important to stay safe and avoid falls.
Every year, thousands of people across the country are treated in emergency rooms for ladder-related injuries. Although you might think you already know how to use a ladder safely, a little refresher couldn’t hurt. Check out these 10 tips to help prevent an accident from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
1. Use a ladder that’s the proper length for the job. It should extend a minimum of 3 feet over the roofline or working surface. Never stand on the top three rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder.
2. Make sure the ladder can support both your weight and the materials you’re putting on it by checking the ladder’s maximum load rating. Allow only one person on the ladder at a time.
3. Place your ladder on level and firm ground. It’s also best to have a helper hold the bottom of the ladder.
4. Never place a ladder in front of a door that isn’t locked, blocked or guarded.
5. Because metal ladders can conduct electricity, don’t use them near power lines or electrical equipment. Stick with wood or fiberglass ladders in these situations and use extra caution. No type of ladder should ever touch live electric wires.
6. Straight, single or extension ladders should be set up at about a 75-degree angle. To test if you have the correct angle, stand up straight with your toes touching the feet of the ladder as it leans away from you. Extend your arms in front of you. Your palms should touch the top of the rung that’s at shoulder level.
7. Check all rung locks and spreader braces on your ladder to make sure they’re set.
8. Keep your body centered between the rails of the ladder at all times. Leaning too far to one side while working is dangerous and can cause you to fall.
9. Only use a ladder for its intended purpose, and follow the ladder’s instruction labels.
10. When you’re done with the ladder, put it away immediately. Never leave a raised ladder unattended.
This brief list doesn’t cover everything, but remembering these tips and practicing caution can help keep you safe the next time you need to use a ladder.