Getting up on a ladder isn’t for the faint of heart. Especially as we age, we may approach tasks that require a ladder with a little uneasiness–and with good reason. Reaching our roof with a ladder can be dizzying and a little scary. In fact, ladders are more dangerous than many of us realize. They’re great tools but need to be used safely to prevent injury.
Tis the Season for Pulling Out That Ladder
Fall is ladder season as we look to tidy up, check on our roofs after summer rains and get ready to decorate for the holidays. This means fall is a great time to focus on ladder safety by inspecting your ladders and brushing up on safety guidelines. It’s also a good time to get quotes from the pros for gutter cleaning and roof repair if you decide getting up on a ladder isn’t the best idea. Here are a few tasks that have homeowners up on ladders this fall, and guess what? They can all be outsourced if needed.
- Cleaning gutters
- Inspecting or checking on your roof, including shingles, chimneys and pipes
- Hanging decorations and Christmas lights
What’s the Scoop on Ladder Injuries?
In 2018, more than 580,000 ladder-related injuries required medical treatment, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This figure includes mostly minor injuries, but some are more serious, and falls from a ladder can be deadly. A 2011 Centers for Disease Control study showed that nearly half of all fatal falls in the previous decade involved ladders.
How Can I Use My Ladder Safely?
There’s a reason the country’s orthopaedic surgeons put out a guide to ladder safety: they cause so many preventable injuries. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers a comprehensive ladder safety guide with great tips. Here are some of the most important guidelines. For the AAOS complete ladder safety guide, go to Ladder Safety Guide.
Set Up Your Ladder Safely
- Make sure the ladder you’re using is the right height for the job. The stepladder you use inside your home may not be the right tool for an outside job that involves getting up to the roof. Instead, look for a sturdy single or extension ladder.
- Check the ladder for recommended use and working load, the maximum weight it can hold.
- Inspect your ladder before using it, and check for damage, loose screws, hinges or rungs.
- Clear off water, mud, grease or anything else that could cause you to slip.
- Don’t try a temporary DIY repair that could fail while you’re on the ladder.
- Make sure the ladder is set up on stable, even ground.
- Make sure the ladder is away from electrical wires, tree limbs and other obstructions.
- Use the 4-to-1 rule: Make sure the ladder is one foot away from the wall for every four feet the ladder rises. That angle is key to safety.
- If you are going to climb onto a roof, the ladder should extend three feet higher than the roof.
Tips For Safe Ladder Use from the AAOS
- Take time to secure the ladder properly.
- Wear safe shoes that won’t slip, and avoid flip flops or sandals.
- Face the ladder while climbing, and stay in the center of the rails using both hands.
- Don’t lean too far to one side. Your belly button should not go beyond the sides of the ladder.
- Don’t stand above the level indicated on the ladder, and never stand on the top rung of any ladder.
- Never use a ladder in high winds.
Choose a Pro for Safety
Sometimes the safest approach is to choose a professional when you’re not comfortable with ladder work. There are plenty of steps you can take to use your ladder safely, but in some cases, it’s just not worth the risk. This certainly applies in the case of roof work since the heights–and risks–are higher. For gutter cleaning, roof inspection and roof repairs large and small, working with a licensed and insured contractor is the way to go. At DryHome, our team has the safety training and experience to make it up to your roof and work there safely. It just makes sense for safety’s sake and your family’s peace of mind.