The nice weather is calling your name, enticing you into the backyard to sit on the deck and relax. But summertime is also when homeowners become motivated to get home maintenance stuff done. If checking the siding or cleaning the gutters is on your to-do list, make sure if it involves a ladder, you’re using it safely.
Reasons People Fall off a Ladder
When cleaning out the gutters, cleaning off the roof or inspecting the roofing system, working on a ladder can be dangerous. Reasons people fall off ladders include:
- wearing the wrong type of shoes
- improper ladder placement
- standing on your toes
- doesn’t heed the “three points of contact” rule
Choosing the Right Ladder
If it’s not the right type for the task at hand, you’re putting yourself in danger. Keep these tips in mind when buying a new ladder:
- a step-ladder is fine for a one storey house but if your home is two or more floors, invest in an extension ladder to help you safely reach the gutters
- if your house is two or more storeys, a straight ladder (leans but doesn’t extend) should be tall enough to reach
- select metal over wood to avoid warping
- purchase a ladder with a stabilizer to prevent denting aluminum gutters or buy the ladder standoff/stabilizer separately
Using the Ladder Safely
Most falls off a ladder are preventable. When doing gutter maintenance this summer or cleaning the gutters in the fall, use these tips suggested by professionals.
Place the ladder on even and stable ground. For example, avoid putting a ladder on shifting surfaces such as wet mud or gravel.
Shoes on ladders should have rubber soles or be made of some other non-slip material.
An extension or straight ladder should not be placed too far from the wall – to determine the maximum number of feet the ladder should be away from the house, divide the height of the ladder by four.
If you have to remove a clog just slightly out of reach, move the ladder instead of reaching too far.
Climbing the ladder, place the middle of the foot on the rung. When standing on the rungs, feet should be flat and slightly apart for added balance.
Always practice the “three points of contact” rule: two feet and one hand when cleaning the gutters or one foot and two hands when climbing the ladder.
Partner up with someone when using the ladder – one on it, one holding or standing nearby; never both on the ladder at the same time.