K-Guard Kansas City Blog

Ladder Safety – Top Considerations when Using a Ladder Outdoors

hanging Christmas lights on gutters

Today, we’re going to talk about ladder safety during the winter. If your ladder was alive, it would probably express glee during the colder months since it’s used so much.

Be it cleaning gutters, checking the roof, or adding/removing holiday lights and decorations, your ladder gets a workout. And so do you. There’s a good deal of climbing up and down, sometimes with heavy objects. You move it from place to place several times in a day. And, when something loosens one of your decorations, the ladder comes back out to make the necessary repairs.

It can’t be done in a Snowy Environment

However, none of this can be done when your property is filled with snow and ice. This combination of elements prevents the safe use of the ladder. In addition, it increases your risk of serious injury and damage to your home.

We could spend several paragraphs detailing the potential problems of using a ladder in winter. However, movies like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation illustrate those. Needless to say, without proper considerations, your holiday season, let alone winter, can be painful and miserable for you and your home.

Safety no Matter what Season

It shouldn’t matter the season. The same precautions you take in the summer should be done in the winter. The only difference is the weather. Here is a list of safety factors to look into.

Clear the area – No matter if it’s pavement or grass, a wide swath of area around the ladder needs to be cleared of snow, ice, and all debris. If using the ladder on a driveway, shoveling won’t do. Make sure you coat the area with ice melt well ahead of time to dry the area out and once dry, sweep up the area before using a ladder.

While shoveling you may find leaves underneath. Those must be cleared as well. They could cause the area to remain slippery even when snow and ice are eliminated.

Clean the ladder – Any moisture or dirt that accumulated on the ladder during its last use may freeze over as the temperatures start to dip. Wipe the side rails and rungs until completely dry. Repeat the process each time it is used during the winter days.

Also examine the anti-slip safety shoes on the bottom of the rails. They may have accumulated dirt and debris that can cause instability, especially if placed in a muddy error during a previous use.

Check the latches – Step and multi-use ladders might feature latches which lock for stability. It is extremely important for these to be in a locked state for safety. Some ladders have a color indicator that shows green for a locked state and red for unlocked.

Not only should you check the color indicator but also physically examine its lock status. You don’t want to be climbing and have the lock fail. This can cause serious injury to you and heavy damage to your property.

Don’t use the ladder during inclement weather

It doesn’t matter if you need to attach that final string of lights or clear a downspout. The ladder must not be used during bad weather. The rungs, including the one you stand on, will become slick.

At the first sign of bad weather, climb down and put the ladder away in a dry area. Wait until surfaces are dry before you take the ladder out again.

Don’t attach to gutters or rooflines

Buy stabilizer bars for ladder stability and avoid models that allow you to latch it to another surface. Should this be the case with your model, do not attach it to the gutters or roofline in any circumstance. If the ladder becomes unstable, the combined weight of you and it will certainly pull the gutters or roof shingles down no matter how sturdy you think they are.

If you feel unsure of your ladder’s stability on a flat or angled surface, then secure the feet with additional chocks or have another person holding the bottom.

Don’t bring everything up at once

There are two reasons not to bring all the decorations or tools up at once. First, ladders have a maximum weight requirement. Should you exceed this, then there’s a chance the rails or rungs may begin to bend or even collapse.

The second reason is your personal safety. Loading everything for one trip can cause your balance to be skewed. Thus, while the ladder can take your weight, you may still fall or drop important equipment.

Overall, be patient. If you can’t complete a task before bad weather or darkness, then put the ladder away and finish on another day. Don’t sacrifice your safety or that of your property for a quick fix.  Also make sure to maintain three points of contact at all times.

And, if you’re using the ladder to once again clean your gutters, then contact the experts at K-Guard. They’ll provide a free estimate to replace your old gutters with our leaf free gutter system, so climbing a ladder for cleaning gutters will be a thing of the past.


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