Fall is a great time to prepare your home for winter. You’ll want to clean the gutters, check windows and doors, and perhaps paint. This usually means you’ll use a ladder.
Ladders are great tools when used safely and properly. However, when you don’t use them in the correct manner they can lead to property damage and they’re the leading cause of non-fatal injuries.
Follow these ladder safety tips to ensure you complete your work safely.
Choose the Right Ladder for the Job
Ladders vary in many ways, so it’s important to match the tool to the task. Consider how high you need to reach and the weight the ladders need to hold. Outdoor ladders can differ from indoor ladders, since they may have special feet to level them on uneven ground.
Choose a ladder with sufficient height and sturdiness for the job. Your ladder should reach at least three feet beyond whatever you want to reach. This means you need at least a 24 foot ladder to access your home’s roof.
While you can use an exterior ladder indoors, don’t rely on an indoor ladder on uneven surfaces outdoors, and don’t ever use a ladder as a bridge or scaffolding.
Set the Ladder Up Properly
Ladders need to rest on a firm, solid surface. If the ground under the feet flexes too much, place a board below to distribute the weight across the soft material.
Don’t lean a ladder against fragile or unstable surfaces. An extension ladder should sit one foot away from a vertical surface for every 4 feet of ladder height. Always secure lengthy ladders to an upper support.
When using a step ladder, ensure it is open fully before climbing the steps. The tabs under the top step should lock in place. Don’t sit a ladder on a box for additional height, and block the doorway if you intend to work on a ladder behind a door.
If you’re climbing up and down a ladder many times, you can become complacent. Remain mindful and think about every pass on the ladder to avoid problems. Only allow one person on the ladder at any one time.
Stand squarely before the ladder and climb using the rungs, not the side rails. Ensure three points on your body always contact the ladder. You should either have two hands and one on foot on the ladder, or two feet and one hand. Dismount from the bottom of the ladder, not the side.
Consider the Weather
Ladders do have treads, but in humid or damp weather, wear slip-resistant shoes. Don’t use ladders in inclement weather, especially if it’s windy. Climb down the ladder immediately if the weather turns nasty and clean the unit before storage.
Plan your route before you move your ladder to its storage area. Always carry the ladder horizontally and check for obstacles beforehand, such as a closed gate.
Review Your Homeowners’ Insurance
Even when you’re cautious, accidents can occur. Review your homeowner’s insurance coverage with an independent insurance agency like ours to ensure you’re adequately covered.