As Thanksgiving approaches, holiday decorations will begin lighting our neighborhoods. With the dark days of winter here, I enjoy the extra light. It may also be the last time of the year to clean out leaves from your gutters.
No matter what the job may be, ladder safety is important. Every year, thousands of people are injured and hundreds killed while using a ladder. Every time I go on my ladder, I remember falling off my parents’ ladder as a young boy and breaking my collarbone.
If you’re getting ready to hang your outdoor decorations or you’re putting up a tall Christmas tree, here are some safety tips to make sure your holiday season is spent safely with family and friends.
Six Ladder Safety Tips
1. Check your local weather report. While Black Friday may be the day you choose to put up your decorations, it’s important to pay attention to your local weather forecast. Standing on a ladder in high winds could cause you to lose your balance. In addition, light drizzle can cause your ladder to become slippery. Make sure you pick a dry day with calm winds.
2. Properly inspect your ladder. Before using your ladder, make sure it’s in good working order. My ladder isn’t very old, doesn’t get much use, and is stored in my garage so I know it’s in good shape. If you store your ladder in a shed or outside, make sure you double-check it.
3. Select the appropriate ladder size for the job. Different jobs require different-sized ladders. If the only way you can get to your gutter to remove leaves or to hang lights is to step on the top step of the ladder, you need to buy a longer ladder. Standing on the top is very dangerous and can cause the ladder to become very unstable. One wrong move and you could be in a world of hurt. If you plan on going on your roof, make sure the ladder extends three feet above the roof elevation.
4. Don’t stretch. While stretching is good for you before using the ladder, stretching or reaching while on a ladder can lead to injury. Over-stretching on a ladder could cause it to kick out from under you and leave you hanging on the gutter.
5. Be cautious by doors. If you’re working by a door that can open toward the ladder, let your family know you’re working there. The last thing you want is for a family member to open the door to grab the newspaper so they can check the holiday ads. A good idea is to tape a note on the door reminding your family you’re working.
6. Make calculated movements. Before making your next move, think about what you want to do and move slowly. Sudden jerks can cause you to lose balance.