As a homeowner, changing light bulbs, dusting the chandelier, or handing holiday lights may not seem like the riskiest projects you can tackle. However, when you climb up a ladder, you’re taking a risk if you haven’t taken the proper safety precautions.
7 Steps to Avoid With Your DIY Projects
Positioning a ladder too close, or too far from the wall.
- Look at the sticker on the side of your ladder that illustrates the angle you should place the ladder at. It looks like a capital “L,”the bottom of the “L” should be parallel to the ground. A ladder has to be planted with its feet one-quarter of its extended length away from the house. If it’s a 12-foot ladder, place it 3 feet from the house. For a 16-foot ladder, make it 4 feet. A good guide is to put your toes against the bottom of the ladder. Reach out your arms out straight without bending at the waist. Your palms should just touch the rung that’s shoulder level.
Carrying an extension ladder upright.
- You could easily lose control of it in this position or knock into power lines. Instead, carry it from the center, holding it parallel to the ground.
Propping the feet.
- Position the ladder on a level surface. Don’t try to use rocks or bricks to level out the feet. Figure these will fail right about the time you reach the top. One thing you can do is dig out a trench under the leg that’s on the high-side and flip up the shoes so the tips add some extra traction by digging into the ground. Stand on the bottom rung and bounce on the ladder to set it firmly into the spot. Another, is to get a ladder leveler that attaches to the base of your ladder.
- A helper can keep you from making stupid mistakes, such as having the ladder fall down while you’re stuck up alone on the roof (I speak from experience).
Using a rickety ladder.
- Wobbly joints, broken rungs, brittle wood? Get rid of that old hand-me-down ladder and spend the money on a sturdy, new safe ladder instead of on hospital bills.
Ignoring the instructions.
- When they say “This is Not a Step,” they mean it. And, don’t reach or lean to the side – keep your body weight centered.
Using a ladder that’s too small.
- You know your ladder is too short if you’d have to stand on or above the first step from the top of a step ladder, or the third rung from the top of an extension ladder. If you’re climbing onto the roof, the top of the ladder should extend three feet above the roof line.
For more tips and advice, go to Tips.acehardware.com.