Holiday Decorating and Your Back

A Careful Climb

(From State Farm Good Neighbor Magazine December 2010)

Holiday DecoratingWhether it’s cleaning gutters or hanging holiday decorations, your ladder gets a lot of use in the fall and winter. Here’s how you can maintain safety while working on it.

If your ladder has been in storage, look for loose, damaged or missing hardware before using it.

If it’s a wood ladder also check for cracks and rot. Always place the ladder’s base on even ground and use a 4:1 ratio when determining ladder placement.

For every 4 feet of the ladder’s vertical height, the base of the ladder should be an additional foot away from the wall. Ladders come in aluminum, wood and fiberglass. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, but if you are working near electricity, avoid aluminum as it is a conductor. Never leave a raised ladder unattended particularly when children are around. While climbing and standing on a ladder, keep yourself centered between the side rails. Overreaching toward either side will upset your balance.

If possible, secure the ladder to the surface you’re climbing, and have someone hold the ladder steady. To prolong your ladder’s life span, store it in a dry, ventilated space.

Prevent sagging and warping by hanging your ladder horizontally, in a closed position, on hooks or racks that support the top, middle and bottom.