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Ladder safety: Don't get decked while decking the halls

Ladder safety: Don’t get decked while decking the halls

The refrain to the holiday song “Deck the Halls,” goes fa-la-la-la-la not fall-la-la-la-la. But falling is what too many homeowners do when attempting to hang holiday lights and decorate their homes. Falls off ladders, roofs or pieces of furniture not meant to support weight sent more than 13,000 holiday decorators to the emergency room at the end of 2010. Half were hospitalized. So, give yourself and your family the gift of safety by reviewing these ladder safety tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

  • Always choose the right ladder for the job. That means one that can extend at least three feet over the roof line or working surface.
  • Always place your ladder on firm level ground. Use leg levelers on uneven or soft ground. You can buy them at a hardware or home improvement store.
  • Make sure the ladder can support both your weight and the load you are carrying by checking its maximum load rating.
  • Make sure both straight and adjustable ladders have slip-resistant feet.
  • Set up straight, single or extension ladders at a 75-degree angle. To test if you have the correct angle, stand up straight with your toes touching the feet of the ladder as it leans away from you. Extend your arms in front of you. Your palms should touch the top of the rung that’s at shoulder level.
  • Don’t use a metal ladder near power lines or electrical equipment. Stick with wood or fiberglass ladders in those situations and use extra caution. And make sure no ladder touches a live electric wire.
  • Check all rung locks and spreader braces on your ladder to make sure they are set.
  • Have a helper hold the bottom of the ladder.
  • Keep ladders away from a door that can be opened.
  • Only allow one person on the ladder at a time.
  • Center your body between the rails of the ladder at all times. Leaning too far to one side while working can cause you to fall.
  • Do not stand on the top three rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder.
  • Stay off the ladder’s top step and bucket shelf. Don’t climb or stand on the non-step side of a stepladder.
  • When you’re done with the ladder, put it away immediately. Never leave a raised ladder unattended.

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